State’s attorney to conduct review of Maine West hazing allegations

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has ordered a “complete top-to-bottom review” of the ongoing hazing scandal at Maine West High School, Alvarez spokeswoman Sally Daly said late Tuesday.

Daly declined to discuss specifics but said prosecutors from the office’s sex crimes division will initiate “a thorough, comprehensive review of the allegations that have been raised both recently and in years past about hazing incidents at the high school.”

Des Plaines police and Maine Township High School District 207 officials have been investigating reports that two 14-year-old freshman members of the varsity boys soccer team were sexually assaulted inside the school on Sept. 26 as part of a hazing ritual.

A parent of one of the complaining witnesses reported an attack to police on Sept. 28. Five juveniles were subsequently charged with misdemeanor battery. A sixth juvenile was charged after police uncovered evidence of another attack that they say occurred during a summer soccer camp.

Published reports indicate Des Plaines police sought felony charges.

“We initially reviewed those cases with the potential for felony charges,” said Daly, but prosecutors did not believe they had enough evidence to sustain felony charges at the time.

Daly declined to speculate on how long the review will take or on any potential charges that might be filed as a result.

“We’ll take as much time as we need to conduct a comprehensive evaluation,” she said.

Four individuals have filed lawsuits against District 207, Maine West, its administrators, coaches and staff. They include the two boys who say they were assaulted in September, as well as a 2007 freshman member of the varsity soccer team and a 2008 freshman baseball player who also say they were assaulted.

Police reports indicate that freshman boys were routinely pinned down, roughed, up, beaten and violated as part of the initiation into the soccer team. The lawsuit alleges that coaches sanctioned the hazing practices.

Maine West High School soccer coaches Michael Divincenzo and Emilio Rodriguez have been banned from school premises and relieved of their coaching duties while the matter is investigated.

On Monday, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services asked the state’s attorney’s office to determine if school officials had met their legal duty to report abuse to DCFS in past cases. DCFS was promptly notified in the latest case, school officials say.

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