5 Wheaton College football players charged in hazing incident

Five Wheaton College football players face felony charges in connection with a 2016 hazing incident, officials confirmed Monday.

James Cooksey, Kyler Kregel, Benjamin Pettway, Noah Spielman and Samuel TeBos were charged with aggravated battery, mob action and unlawful restraint, according to the DuPage County state's attorney's office.

A DuPage County judge signed arrest warrants Monday afternoon, setting bail for each at $50,000.

The five players are accused of hazing a 19-year-old freshman student on March 19, 2016, the Chicago Tribune reported.

According to records cited in the Tribune's report Monday night, the student was in his dorm room when he was tackled by the football players, his legs and wrists wrapped up in duct tape, and a pillow case put over his head. He was placed in the back seat of a teammate's vehicle, and as they drove, the players made offensive comments about Muslims, the report said.

At one point, they attempted to sexually assault him, but when told to stop, he was beaten, the report said.

The student was left half-naked on a baseball diamond at an off-campus park, where another player was dumped 10 minutes later; the two were eventually driven back to campus by classmates, according to the report.

The freshman student, who went to the hospital, had muscle tears in both shoulders, as well as bumps and bruises, the Tribune said. He soon transferred from Wheaton College.

In a statement, college officials said they were “deeply troubled” by the allegations against the five football players and called the conduct “entirely unacceptable and inconsistent with the values we share as human beings and as members of an academic community.”

“We are profoundly saddened that any member of our community could be mistreated in any way,” the statement said.

College officials said the incident was brought to their attention by other members of the football team and coaching staff in March 2016. Officials say they hired an independent, third-party investigator to conduct an internal investigation, which resulted in a range of “corrective actions.”

But officials said they were unable to share details of those disciplinary measures due to federal student privacy protections.

All five football players were listed on the team's roster online as of Monday night. The team is ranked fourth in the country in Division III.

Head Coach Mike Swider didn't respond to a request for comment Monday night.

None of the players are from the Chicago area. Cooksey is from Jacksonville, Florida; Kregel, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Pettway, Lookout Mountain, Georgia; Spielman, Columbus, Ohio; and TeBos, Allendale, Michigan.

Spielman is the son of former NFL player Chris Spielman, now a broadcaster for Fox Sports.

The incident prompted the college's board of trustees to engage outside experts to lead a campuswide review of the effectiveness of the school's anti-hazing policy and “the culture around how students treat one another in our campus communities, athletic teams and organizations,” the college's statement said.

Five Wheaton College football players are facing charges in connection with a 2016 hazing incident. Mary Beth Nolan for the Daily Herald
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.