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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, August 17, 2019 1:00 am

Rape alleged in Ohio football camp hazing

MARK GILLISPIE | Associated Press

CLEVELAND – Eleven Cleveland-area high school football players were victims of hazing at a camp in June, including four who were sexually assaulted by teammates, court records show.

Authorities say the assaults and hazing occurred during a Berea-Midpark High School football camp held at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

An 18-year-old student was indicted Wednesday as an adult on charges that include rape, sexual battery, kidnapping, hazing, unlawful restraint, evidence tampering and obstructing justice.

Two 17-year-old boys were charged Thursday in Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court with rape, sexual battery, hazing and unlawful restraint. A 15-year-old boy was charged with hazing and unlawful restraint.

Charging documents indicate four Berea-Midpark players were sexually assaulted, including one player who was raped.

The Cleveland Police Sex Crimes Unit began investigating after being contacted June 19 by Case Western police. According to a police report, Berea-Midpark High School Principal Vincenzo Ruggiero contacted the university's police department when he received an anonymous complaint about the hazing.

Tracy Wheeler, superintendent of the Berea City School District, said in a statement that no evidence has been found “that any coach had any knowledge of the hazing incident.”

Wheeler said students can be disciplined or suspended from extracurricular activities while charges are pending. “Appropriate athletic and academic consequences will be handed out by the administration as deemed appropriate,” Wheeler said.

Case Western Reserve University issued a statement Friday that said, “We are horrified by the conduct described in these charges, and devastated for the victims and their families.”

The university also said it began investigating the school's policies and practices regarding overnight youth camps when the university staff is not providing direct supervision of those staying in residence halls. The statement said Case Western is “seriously considering all residential camps that do not directly involve our own trained staff.”