5 Wheaton College football players charged in hazing incident
WHEATON, Ill. (WGN) – Five Wheaton College football players are facing felony charges after being accused in a 2016 hazing incident.
The football players are accused of restraining a freshman teammate with duct tape, beating him and leaving him half-naked with two torn shoulders on a baseball field.
James Cooksey, Kyler Kregel, Benjamin Pettway, Noah Spielman and Samuel TeBos were charged with aggravated battery, mob action and unlawful restraint.
A DuPage County judge signed arrested warrants for the players. The men are expected to turn themselves into authorities this week.
Bond was set at $50,000.
In a statement, the victim said he was in his dorm room when the players entered the room and tackled him. They duct taped his legs and put him in the back of a teammate’s car.
The victim said they made offensive comments about Muslims.
The freshman said his teammates repeatedly tried to insert an object into his rectum. When the victim told them to stop, he was beaten.
In the statement, the victim said they then took him to a baseball field and left him there half-naked.
A few minutes later, another teammate was dumped on the field.
The victim went to the hospital and notified his parents. Hospital staff called authorities.
The victim had two surgeries since leaving the college, the Chicago Tribune said. He now goes to school in Indiana.
Wheaton College released a statement about the incident and said they are “deeply troubled” by the allegations brought against the platers.
Read the full statement:
Wheaton College aspires to provide an educational environment that is not only free of hazing, but practices our values as a Christian community. As such, we are deeply troubled by the allegations brought by law enforcement against five members of our football team. When this incident was brought to our attention by other members of the football team and coaching staff in March 2016, the College took swift action to initiate a thorough investigation. Our internal investigation into the incident, and our engagement with an independent, third-party investigator retained by the College, resulted in a range of corrective actions. We are unable to share details on these disciplinary measures due to federal student privacy protections.
The College has fully cooperated with law enforcement in their investigation. To not impede the law enforcement investigation, the College was bound by confidentiality and unable to share more information until now.
The conduct we discovered as a result of our investigation into this incident was entirely unacceptable and inconsistent with the values we share as human beings and as members of an academic community that espouses to live according to our Community Covenant. We are profoundly saddened that any member of our community could be mistreated in any way. This incident has prompted our Board of Trustees to engage outside experts to lead a campus-wide review of the level of effectiveness of our anti-hazing policy and of the culture around how students treat one another in our campus communities, athletic teams, and organizations. Wheaton remains committed to providing Christ-centered development programs and training to all our students.
In 2014, we revised our anti-hazing policy and improved our training protocols to include a formal review of our anti-hazing policy with all student athletes every year, with required student signatures; we also require annual training for residence assistants who are responsible for residence hall activities. Despite these deeply troubling charges, we have experienced positive changes on campus, including rapid responses from campus leaders to reports of hazing or other inappropriate behavior and effective disciplinary review.
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