Third former Wheaton College football player pleads in hazing case
The third of five former Wheaton College football players facing felony charges in a 2016 hazing scandal has pleaded guilty to lesser misdemeanor charges.
Samuel TeBos, 22, of Allendale, Michigan, pleaded guilty Tuesday to misdemeanor battery and was sentenced to one year of conditional discharge requiring him to pay a $250 anti-crime fee and complete 100 hours of public service -- including 25 hours of speaking to youths about the dangers of hazing.
The plea deal and sentence is identical to one agreed to in March by co-defendant Noah Spielman and on June 6 by co-defendant Kyler Kregel.
In September, a grand jury approved a nine-count indictment against TeBos and four teammates charging them with aggravated battery, mob action and unlawful restraint in the hazing of then-teammate Charles Nagy.
On Tuesday, prosecutors dropped the nine felony charges against Kregel in exchange for his plea.
TeBos, along with Spielman from Columbus, Ohio; Ben Pettway from Lookout Mountain, Georgia; Kregel of Grand Rapids, Michigan; and James Cooksey of Jacksonville, Florida, are accused of abducting Nagy, now 21, from his dorm on March 19, 2016.
As part of his plea, TeBos admitted to putting a pillowcase over Nagy's head and tying him with duct tape before he was placed in a pickup truck and driven to a baseball field near Hawthorne Elementary School in Wheaton.
Prosecutors said the defendants are accused of repeatedly punching and kicking Nagy, kicking dirt on him and then leaving him partially nude on the field.
TeBos declined to address the court when given the opportunity. But outside of court, his attorney, Todd Pugh, called the resolution "bittersweet," saying there was no malicious intent.
"It's unfortunate that Mr. Nagy took something that was done in good cheer and it had, in his opinion, a harmful consequence," Pugh said. "The events that happened to him have happened to other students and they all laughed it off. He didn't.
"(Nagy) was overly sensitive to this and others weren't. Then shame on us for not vetting our targets better. But it would be fair to say that you would expect people who play football, boys who have played football their whole life, violent contact with other players in a consensual atmosphere, would not have found this to be as traumatic as say, someone who had never played a contact sport."
Terry Ekl, Nagy's attorney, said Nagy was left with two injured shoulders that required three surgeries. Ekl said he doesn't see anything harmless with any of the other defendants' actions that night.
"These five guys, they may not be thugs, but they sure were acting like thugs that night. The idea that because he plays football that that makes it OK to abuse him like this just defies common sense," Ekl said. "Because this kid plays football, he should be able to withstand having his labarums torn and not complain about it? What kind of an asinine statement is that?"
Pugh said he was still not entirely convinced his client caused the shoulder injuries.
"(Nagy suffered) definitely some bumps and bruises but they're football players," Pugh said. "At least from our perspective, and we consulted experts, what he says occurred on this night was not something that we thought would have caused a labrum tear. If it happened during this incident, we're very, very sorry, but it certainly wasn't an intended consequence of this."
Ekl said he is particularly disheartened by Pugh's statements because Ekl and Nagy were consulted by the state's attorney's office when prosecutors were considering a deal in the case.
"We went along with it because we thought it was the right thing to do if these defendants accepted responsibility for what they did," Ekl said. "So they got the benefit of the reduction then they go out in the hallway and try to claim they didn't do anything wrong. It's outrageous."
Cooksey is expected to plead to a similar charge and face a similar sentence on July 16. Pettway is next due in court on June 26 and prosecutors believe he will be seeking a trial.