5th Maine West High School student alleges hazing by soccer team

August 27, 2013 4:30:07 PM PDT
A fifth member of the Maine West High School boys' soccer team now says he was also a victim of hazing.

The unnamed 16-year-old soccer player filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court on Monday, August 26, 2013. He said he was forced to the ground and physically and sexually assaulted by older teammates during a campus run in September 2012.

This newest complaint is similar to a lawsuit filed on behalf of two other soccer players who said they were sexually assaulted during a hazing ritual in 2012.

"It's unfortunate now that Maine West has become the national poster child for hazing, sexual abuse and scandal regarding sports in the United States," Tony Romanucci, attorney, said.

Romanucci says Maine Township administrators have known about hazing at Maine West for several years but did nothing to stop it. The lawsuit names the district, principal, and fired soccer coaches Michael Divincenzo and Emilio Rodriguez. Divincenzo faces criminal charges of battery, hazing and failure to report abuse.

"Had enforcement been completed and done in 2008, we wouldn't be here today," Romanucci said.

Romanucci says the abuse happened underneath the school bleachers and that since then his client has been dealing with shame and fear. The boy's mother said in a written statement that she learned about the abuse from the school. She wrote, "We saw our child changing and I could not understand why. The sport that he once loved became a sport that he no longer wanted to be a part of. He became depressed and angry most of the time."

An organization called Positive Coaching Alliance will talk about efforts to prevent hazing during a presentation at Maine West High School on Tuesday night. Originally, the assembly was open to the media, but in light of this most recent lawsuit, media will not be allowed access.

Romanucci says he continues to be contacted by Maine West families concerned about possible abuse. He says there could possibly be more lawsuits.


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