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Article updated: 11/29/2012 6:41 PM

Police report: Maine West coach witnessed, encouraged hazing

By Madhu Krishnamurthy

Documents obtained from Des Plaines police are shedding new light on what police say was the repeated hazing of freshmen Maine West High School students by members of the varsity boys soccer team.

The police report of the Sept. 26 attack describes a pattern of abuse that was part of initiation into the soccer team. Freshmen boys were routinely roughed up by members of the varsity soccer team, pinned down, beaten and violated, the report states.

Police say there are more students who were victims of a Sept. 26 hazing than the two who have come forward. However, they have declined to be part of the investigation, police say, nor are they currently part of a lawsuit filed by parents of several alleged victims.

At this juncture, the accusations have led to six juveniles being charged with battery.

The documents, obtained Thursday through the Freedom of Information Act, reveal that students told police that head soccer coach Michael Divincenzo witnessed and sanctioned the hazing.

Repeated attempts to contact Divincenzo have failed.

Allegations of sexual assault on two 14-year-old freshman soccer students on Sept. 26 launched the police investigation that led to five juveniles being charged with battery and hazing.

During the course of the investigation, police uncovered evidence of another hazing that had occurred during a summer soccer camp. On two separate occasions during that camp, members of the varsity and sophomore soccer teams repeatedly sodomized a boy with foreign objects as part of a team initiation ritual, according to documents.

The boy complained of pain and bleeding and was taken to a local emergency room by his mother, according to the report. The alleged attack resulted in the sixth juvenile being charged, the report said.

A lawsuit was filed Nov. 19 by the family of one of the 14-year-old boys allegedly assaulted on Sept. 26, against Maine Township High School District 207, and Maine West High School coaches, administration and staff.

This week, the families of three other Maine West students joined the lawsuit.

All four victims claim they were sexually assaulted as part of the hazing. The victims have been identified as a 2007 freshman member of the varsity soccer team; a 2008 freshman baseball player; and two boys who say they were assaulted Sept. 26 inside the school.

Attorneys for the families say the common denominator in all four cases is Divincenzo, who was overseeing the baseball and soccer programs the years the hazing allegedly occurred.

Maine West officials say they knew about and disciplined the students involved soon after the 2008 attack. However, it was only reported to the Department of Children and Family Services and made part of the district's larger investigation into hazing after it was brought to the attention of Superintendent Ken Wallace on Nov. 16, according to a statement Wednesday by District 207.

"District 207 reiterates that the 2012 allegations were acted upon immediately, including notification of Des Plaines Police and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services right away," the statement said, noting that both investigations are ongoing.

Accounts given to police varied as to Divincenzo's role.

One accused student told police Divincenzo knew about the initiations, but not what was involved, and said that over the summer he had told the varsity soccer players not to "mess" with a student.

One victim told police during an interview that the varsity coach once addressed the freshmen students during practice and said "if they didn't start communicating, he was going to have varsity players come over and stick fingers up the freshmen players' butts," according to the police report.

One victim said Divincenzo not only witnessed his hazing but congratulated and welcomed him to the team asking, "if it was all good," according to a DCFS report received by police.

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