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D-155 officials say hazing investigation followed district policy

CRYSTAL LAKE – An internal investigation into allegations of hazing by members of the Prairie Ridge High School wrestling team followed district policy and no athletes were given special treatment, school officials said.

At the outset of the inquiry earlier this year, police said a number of wrestlers were accused of restraining teammates while others slapped them on the stomach. Police also investigated whether members of the team had touched private areas of other wrestlers through clothing.

The allegations created a minor furor around town and on Web sites such as illinoismat men.com and Facebook.com. They also spawned gossip, rumor and phone calls to the district from concerned parents.

Crystal Lake District 155 administrators said their internal investigation determined how the incident was handled.

Asked whether all district policies were followed, administrators said they responded to the situation with the facts they had.

“Our actions were based on our investigation,” Superintendent Jill Hawk said Monday. “Any discipline that resulted was based on our investigation up to this point.”

The police investigation culminated Friday with the arrest of five wrestlers on charges of simple battery, a misdemeanor.

Hawk said the district cooperated with the Crystal Lake Police Department’s concurrent investigation into the alleged hazing. The district requested the final police reports from the department, but Hawk said Monday that she had not seen the documentation. Any further school sanctions would be based on those reports, Hawk said.

Since the names of the students who were charged were not released, it was not immediately clear whether the concurrent school and police investigations reached the same conclusions.

Hawk said she could not discuss what disciplinary action, if any, was taken against students because of privacy laws. However, she said, school leaders and athletic directors carefully analyzed policy and the athletic code of conduct to ensure that all policies were followed.

Four wrestlers were scratched from competing in a Fox Valley Conference meet in late January at the tail end of the regular season. A coach previously declined to comment on the reason. The school began investigating the hazing allegations after receiving an anonymous letter Jan. 28.

Team practice and competition at the state meet were not interrupted by the investigation, but Hawk said “not all students wrestled in the postseason.”

When asked whether any of the coaches could face punishment, Hawk said that still was under investigation.

Any student expulsion or faculty dismissal would be handled by the District 155 school board. As of Monday, no such action had been discussed, board President Ted Wagner said.

“This has not come to the board level,” Wagner said. “The administration has handled this according to district policy.”

Wagner said he was concerned about the allegations but that it would be inappropriate for him to comment.

The five students charged with battery were not identified because of their age, Crystal Lake Police Cmdr. Mike Brichetto said. Their cases were referred to juvenile court.

Police said they believed that the batteries took place on the Prairie Ridge campus. It was not clear what the students were accused of having done. Battery can include “any physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature,” Brichetto said.

“What might be construed as horseplay to some was offensive to others,” he said.

Police interviewed more than 60 Prairie Ridge wrestlers in addition to coaches and witnesses during the course of the investigation. Brichetto said they found three victims.

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