Second former Wheaton College football player accepts plea deal in hazing
The second of five former Wheaton College football players charged in a 2016 hazing scandal pleaded guilty Tuesday to misdemeanor battery in DuPage County court.
Kyler Kregel, 22, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, 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 one of Kregel's co-defendants, Noah Spielman.
In September, a grand jury approved a nine-count indictment against Kregel 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 to the misdemeanor count.
Kregel thanked prosecutors for "recognizing ... this matter was best resolved as a misdemeanor offense and not as a felony."
"This college prank was never intended by anyone to harm or even upset Charles. In fact, quite the opposite," Kregel said.
"Anyone that has grown up with brothers knows that sometimes boys, in friendship, wrestle with each other or even give each others Charlie horse when the other is not looking. This was never meant to be much more than that," he said.
"Had I any inkling that Charles was not taking the prank in the spirit with which it was intended, or if I had any indication that he was hurting in any significant way, or that he was objecting in a serious manner, I would have stopped the episode immediately," Kregel said. "I believe every other young man involved in this case would have done the same."
Kregel, along with Spielman from Columbus, Ohio; Ben Pettway from Lookout Mountain, Georgia; Samuel TeBos from Allendale, Michigan; and James Cooksey of Jacksonville, Florida, are accused of abducting Nagy, now 21, from his dorm on March 19, 2016, putting a pillowcase over his head, tying him with duct tape, placing him into a pickup truck and driving him 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.
Terry Ekl, Nagy's attorney, said Nagy was left with two injured shoulders that required three surgeries. During the car ride to the ballfield, Ekl said, Nagy, who was a freshman, was threatened with sexual violation.
Kregel, the son of a Christian minister, also addressed those allegations.
"Please recognize that the more salacious allegations against me and the other young men ... were never founded in fact and were never part of the charges against me," Kregel told Judge Brian Telander. "Those allegations are completely false. Yet, I will likely live with the adverse consequences of those spurious allegations for the rest of my life."
Telander accepted the plea for what he called a "terrible error in judgment" on Kregel's part and a "nightmare for all six families involved."
Prosecutors also said Tuesday that the framework of a deal is being worked out with Cooksey's attorney prior to his June 15 court date. An agreement is in place with TeBos and is expected to be resolved at his June 19 court date. Pettway is also due in court on June 19, but his attorney has not yet told prosecutors whether he will accept a deal that expires "at the stroke of midnight."