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Answers Sought in Violent Youth Hazing

Conduct of parents, kids investigated after 'rite of passage' ends in melee that leaves 5 injured.

May 09, 2003|From Associated Press

NORTHBROOK, Ill. — Authorities investigating a videotaped hazing in which high school girls were pummeled and showered with feces, paint and garbage said Thursday that they are trying to determine whether parents supplied beer and some of the filth. They also said criminal charges were probable. The melee occurred Sunday during a touch football game between high school girls in a park in this well-to-do Chicago suburb. Seniors had invited juniors for what was described as an initiation into their senior year.

Videotaped by students and shown repeatedly on national television, the hazing involved as many as 100 teenagers from Glenbrook North High. Five girls were hospitalized, including one who broke an ankle and another who suffered a cut in her head that required 10 stitches.

Cook County Forest Preserve District police said they will probably file criminal charges. Spokesman Steve Mayberry said he did not know the specific violations or who would be charged.

Northbrook Deputy Chief Michael Green said police were investigating whether parents provided alcohol. School board member Tom Shaer said two parents might have supplied kegs of beer.

Police were also investigating whether a parent helped gather some of the feces, Shaer said.

"This is brutality to another human being by drunken buffoons," said Judd Hack, 17, a junior, said outside the school Thursday.

The students apparently arranged the event in secret, seeking to keep school administrators -- who suspected the girls were planning something -- from learning the time and place.

"We have determined the kids had a network of cell phones, pagers, text messages and Internet instant messages," Shaer said.

Some participants were not told of the time and location until an hour beforehand, Glenbrook North Principal Michael Riggle said.

For years, students at the school of more than 2,000 pupils have held a "powder puff" football game each spring as a rite of passage.

Shaer said in the past, administrators have been able to find out when and where the event was to take place in time to alert the police and prevent it from turning into the kind of melee that happened Sunday.

Zack Blum, a student who videotaped the event, said the hazing after the football game used to be limited to girls dumping food on other girls. "People never got hurt before," he said.

Rollin Soskin, a lawyer for three girls who were beaten, said there was no indication that this year's event was going to be different.

"They were told no physical pain would be inflicted, no hair cutting, they wouldn't be made to eat anything," he said. "They expected to get whipped cream, ketchup, syrup in their hair, that kind of stuff."

What happened, Soskin said and the videotapes show, was far different.

"One of the girls was being strangled with pig intestines," he said.

"They used pig intestines, minnows, coffee grounds, excrement," he said.

Others were punched and kicked repeatedly, he said, adding that one of his clients had an earring ripped from her ear and broke her tailbone.

Videotapes show girls in yellow jerseys punching, slapping and dumping paint on juniors kneeling on the ground.

Some spectators are shown on the video hoisting cups of beer.

The seniors charged the juniors $35 to $40 and supplied them with jerseys, officials said.

School officials stressed that the game took place off-campus without their knowledge but said the students could face school discipline.

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