Five Plano High students charged over possible hazing incidents - FOX 32 News Chicago

Five Plano High students charged over possible hazing incidents

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PLANO, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Five students at a southwest suburban high school have been charged with sexual assault and battery in what could be a case of ongoing sports team hazing at the school, the Beacon-News is reporting.

The five, all boys younger than 17 at the time of the incidents, were charged with criminal sexual assault, aggravated battery and unlawful restraint, Kendall County State's Attorney Eric Weis said.

The Plano High School students were arrested Tuesday night and held overnight in the Kane County Juvenile Detention Center. They were to appear Wednesday before a juvenile court judge to decide if they would stay in the youth home or be released to their parents.

Weis said the students were charged in connection with multiple incidents that took place in August 2012 and February of this year, involving three victims. Both the alleged offenders and victims were members of the same sports teams and not randomly selected students, police said.

Weis said there could be more incidents and more victims, and that the crimes might have been part of ongoing hazing rituals involving the football and boys basketball teams.

"There are indications incidents could have occurred before August 2012," Weis said. "It's possible other victims could come forward."

For that reason, Weis and Plano Police Chief Steve Eaves said the investigation remains open.

Weis confirmed the incidents involved multiple students holding another student down. One of the offenders would then penetrate the victim with a finger.

He said only one of the youths charged did the penetrating, while the others held the victims down.

"It doesn't appear to be a sexually motivated crime," Weis said. "It's dominance, humiliation … this would be on the extreme end of hazing incidents I have heard of or dealt with."

Eric Benson, Plano High principal, said he thought the incidents were contained to the ones reported, and not part of an ongoing problem. But he admitted Wednesday morning he did not know all the details of the investigation.

"I'm not sure if this is completely a hazing," he said. "If that is the case, we've all been held in the dark for a while."

Benson said the school has taken measures to increase supervision in locker rooms and throughout the school, and did so immediately after an incident was first reported seven months ago.

Eaves confirmed that he talked to the principal, as well as Plano School District Supt. Hector Garcia, as soon as the incident was reported in February.

Benson said the school increased the visibility of adults in the locker rooms and made sure coaches were present at all times. He also said camera systems throughout the high school were changed to improve overall security.

"We have assured the staff ... supervision is secured," he said.

According to Weis, the investigation began in February when a parent of one of the victims reported the situation to Plano police. That seven-month investigation resulted in the arrests Tuesday night.

Eaves called the situation "shocking to all of us."

"But it has to be remembered, these are juveniles," he said. "They made a mistake. Juvenile law is based on correcting the behavior. The first thing people need to know is that steps have been taken, that the school is safe."

The investigation remains ongoing and victims or anyone with information should call Plano police at (630) 552-8275.

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