Fifth Wheaton College football player pleads not guilty to hazing

  • James Cooksey

    James Cooksey

Updated 11/13/2017 5:16 PM

The fifth of five suspended Wheaton College football players accused of hazing a former teammate pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of aggravated battery, mob action and unlawful restraint.

James Cooksey, 22, of Jacksonville, Florida, was the last player to appear in DuPage County court in connection with the alleged attack in March 2016.


Kyler Kregal from Grand Rapids, Michigan; Ben Pettway from Lookout Mountain, Georgia; Noah Spielman from Columbus, Ohio; and Samuel TeBos from Allendale, Michigan, pleaded not guilty to identical charges on Oct. 23.

The men are accused of abducting a teammate from his dorm room, putting a pillowcase over his head, tying him with duct tape and leaving him partially nude on a baseball field near Hawthorne Elementary School in Wheaton.

Terry Ekl, the attorney for the victim, said his client was left with two injured shoulders that required three surgeries. During the car ride to the field, Ekl said, the victim, who was a freshman, was threatened with sexual violation.

Cooksey and Pettway on Monday also joined a motion to temporarily lift a gag order so attorneys representing the players can publicly deny any allegations that the freshman was threatened sexually.

Judge Brian Telander also allowed, over prosecutors' objections, Cooksey and Pettway to possess firearms for the purpose of hunting.

All five men are due back in court at 9 a.m. on Jan. 11, at which time Telander will review a request by Pettway to travel out of the country for a mission trip.

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