High school student beaten in alleged hazing incident

October 24, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Four students from Prosser Career Academy and two assistant coaches, Tom Cipriani, 47, and Jonathan Manning, 21, are charged with misdemeanor battery. School officials say one of the coaches reported a hazing incident where four seniors allegedly beat a freshman with a belt while another coach videotaped it. Cipriani and Manning are also charged with endangering a child.

Some Prosser students are not taking the charges seriously.

"Everybody was laughing," said football player Kenden Jones said.

"They always just playing around. There was no harm to him. He didn't get no bruises or nothing," said football player Antonio Hillard.

Hillard and Jones say one of the assistant coached told the four players to haze the freshman. Both players say the incident was overblown and should not have resulted in criminal charges.

Chicago Public Schools policy, however, does not tolerate or condone hazing or violence of any kind. Despite that, the incident did not come as a surprise to other Prosser students, who are also downplaying it.

"It's football, it's not no soft sport, everybody got to go through it. If you don't like it, don't play," said Nikel Webster, student.

"Most people don't get charged for it. When these four boys did it I guess they just got caught," said Lirik Jordan, student.

While students may call hazing acceptable, experts say there is nothing appropriate about it. Educational psychologist Dr. Jean Alberti calls hazing or bullying child abuse by children.

"There are millions of kids around the country that get hazed and there are certainly long term consequences for many of those children," said Alberti.

Dr. Alberti says the long term consequence for victims is becoming the next generation of hazers or bullies. She suspects the coaches that are accused in the Prosser case were probably hazed when they were kids. The coaches are not Prosser teachers. Chicago Public Schools have barred the men from school property.

School officials say the coaches will be dismissed. The students face a 10-day suspension and possible expulsion.

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