Here’s what we know about the Hamilton High School hazing arrests.
Three football players at Hamilton High School were arrested after Chandler police alleged they committed various crimes, including sexual assault, that surfaced in an investigation of hazing allegations. The charges rocked the school and Arizona football community.
Though many details of what occurred remained unclear Friday, here’s what we know.
Six arrested, three charged
On Wednesday, Chandler police announced the arrest of six Hamilton football players, five who attend Hamilton High School and one who attends Chief Hill Learning Academy, suspected of being connected to various crimes involving a hazing case.
Police said they were alerted in February to the hazing allegations, which they said spanned about 17 months from September 2015 to January 2017.
Police said the crimes impacted “multiple male victims” on the high school’s football team. The series of related crimes likely occurred on school grounds, located at Arizona Avenue and Ocotillo Road, police said.
The Chandler Unified School District also confirmed the investigation began in February, after a complaint came to the district.
Hamilton boasts one of the most successful high-school football programs in Arizona, having won seven state championships since 2003.
Chandler police announced Wednesday that the six players in custody ranged in age from 16 to 18.
That night, a juvenile and an 18-year-old player were released from custody. A police spokesman said investigators had enough probable cause to arrest the students but they were not being recommended for charges.
On Thursday, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office announced two 16-year-old boys were charged, as juveniles, with kidnapping, aggravated assault and assault.
A 17-year-old player was charged as an adult with sex assault, kidnapping and aggravated assault.
Prosecutors were continuing to investigate a charge that Chandler police were seeking against a 15-year-old player believed to be involved.
It was unclear if the charged students were still in police custody.
Chandler police believe there is a possibility other victims may exist and have urged those with information about the case to call 480-782-4130.
17-year-old charged as an adult
The 17-year-old football player was charged as an adult with three felonies. Arizona law states that a county attorney can pursue criminal prosecution of many charges against a juvenile in the same manner as an adult if the minor is 15-17 at the time of the alleged offense.
The law stipulates that prosecutors may pursue adult felony charges in cases involving murder, forcible sexual assault, armed robbery or any other violent offense, among others.
The act of forcible sexual assault, defined as a sexual act committed without consent of the victim, is a Class 2 felony and includes a presumptive sentence of 7 years in prison if a defendant is found guilty.
Arizona law stipulates hazing prevention policies for schools
Law-enforcement officials characterized the Hamilton football case as a probe into hazing allegations.
Arizona law defines hazing as any “intentional, knowing or reckless act” found to be committed by a student, acting individually, or with others, against a fellow student. Criteria of the offense is described in two categories:
- The act was committed as an initiation or maintenance of membership in affiliation with any organization connected to an educational institution.
- The offense potentially contributes to a substantial risk or causes physical injury, mental harm or degradation.
By law, every public educational institution in the state is obligated to adopt, post and enforce a hazing prevention policy meant to be printed in every student handbook. One stipulation includes a statement that it is not a defense for the perpetrators if the victim consented to or acquiesced to the hazing activity.
Hamilton High School’s student handbook, available on its website, includes passages about bullying, intimidation and harassment, in which hazing is mentioned. The punishment for being caught hazing at the school ranges from suspension to expulsion.
Although the handbook includes the definition and outlines a specific punishment for the offense, several defined hazing-prevention policies outlined by state law are not included in the digital handbook.
If an organization knowingly permitted, authorized or condoned the hazing of members, it potentially could be suspended or revoked from the school campus. In addition, any teacher or staff member who was aware and disregarded the hazing is subject to disciplinary action by the school, according to the Hamilton handbook
Read or Share this story: http://azc.cc/2nIMgwS