Maine West hazing trial on hold as judge considers arguments - FOX 32 News Chicago

Maine West hazing trial on hold as judge considers arguments

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

In an unusual move, a Cook County judge put the criminal trial of a former Maine West soccer coach on hold as he considers whether to find him not guilty without having to put on a defense.

Cook County Judge Jeffrey L. Warnick said the trial will resume Jan. 8 after he receives detailed legal briefs from the prosecution and defense, the Sun-Times is reporting.

Typically, judges make rulings immediately from the bench on motions for a directed verdict after the prosecution wraps up its case. Most often, the defendant loses and has to proceed with his defense.

But in the case, the fact that the judge is taking a few weeks to consider the arguments by Michael Divincenzo's lawyers for a not guilty verdict suggests the judge is taking the motion as a serious, substantive request.

Divincenzo, 37, of Elk Grove Village, opted to have a judge decide his case rather than a jury, as he is legally entitled.

He is charged with misdemeanor battery, hazing and failure to report abuse. Prosecutors say he failed to report and put a stop to a cycle of hazing at the school in Des Plaines.

Prosecutors wrapped up their case after putting on their final witness this morning, an 18-year-old student who described how he was initiated into the team through a hazing ritual.

The defense then made a motion for a directed verdict, arguing that prosecutors did not prove their case.

Divincenzo's lawyers argue he was a good coach and mentor who nonetheless had no idea what his players were doing to each other.

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