Police: No charges in Lake Zurich football hazing
Lake Zurich police say there is insufficient evidence to warrant criminal charges in connection with allegations of hazing involving the town's high school football team.
Police investigated reports of inappropriate behavior in the Lake Zurich High School football locker room days before a Nov. 5 state playoff game against Fenwick High School. Emails obtained from Lake Zurich Unit District 95 referred to the activity as hazing.
In an announcement Friday, police said they investigated what District 95 reported as a "suspicious, possibly criminal" incident involving football players at the high school. Lake Zurich investigators exhausted all available leads in the case without any potential victims coming forward.
"No one ever filed a report," Police Chief Steven Husak said.
Police said they began the investigation after the Daily Herald reported football players were ordered to sign a student behavior agreement before the Fenwick game or be prohibited from playing the rest of the 2016 season. The agreement was part of a letter sent to players and parents.
Although the letter provided no details about what happened, it included several references to hazing. It said team members participated in "inappropriate activity" in the locker room after team dinners.
District 95 officials said administrators acted quickly and notified a school resource officer after an employee told them about something that occurred in the football locker room. A school resource officer alerted Lake Zurich police superiors, and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services was notified.
Head coach David Proffitt and assistant Chad Beaver were placed on paid administrative leave just before the Fenwick game, which the Bears lost 20-14 to end their season. Proffitt is a physical education teacher at the school, and Beaver is a dean.
District 95 Superintendent Kaine Osburn said the paid leave is typical when the district conducts a personnel inquiry and does not indicate wrongdoing.
Osburn and Lake Zurich High Principal Kent Nightlinger issued an email to parents and guardians after the police announcement late Friday afternoon. They said an Arlington Heights law firm is compiling a report based on its independent investigation that "will make further recommendations about how to address concerns raised by this episode."
They also said athletic locker rooms now are locked when an employee is not available to supervise. Schedules also are in place to identify each coach assigned to supervise a locker room at any given time.
District 95 hired a national expert in hazing and prevention who has worked with school employees to lead education programs.
An attorney who handled a boys soccer team hazing lawsuit against Maine West High School in Des Plaines has been retained by the family of a Lake Zurich student-athlete said to have been victimized. The lawyer, Antonio Romanucci, claimed there was "widespread, egregious" misconduct by some Lake Zurich football team members this year. He couldn't be reached for comment Friday.