The same Maine West High School coach accused of sanctioning the sexual assault of a 14-year-old soccer player in a hazing ritual this year also coached players on the school’s freshman baseball team who were involved in a similar hazing incident in 2008, district officials revealed Sunday.
Michael DiVincenzo, who is also a Maine Township High School District 207 teacher, has been temporarily reassigned with pay following allegations that three boys on his varsity soccer team were sexually assaulted during practice in September. Freshman coach Emilio Rodriguez, a fellow teacher, has also been reassigned, while three coaches who were not Maine West teachers have been terminated from coaching.
In a lawsuit filed by the family of one of the 14-year-old boys, lawyer Antonio Romanucci says the hazing was sanctioned by the coaches, who ordered the team to do a “campus run,” code for hazing, the Chicago Daily Herald reports. The complaint alleges that teammates shoved the three boys to the ground and beat them. The older players then held them down, pulled down their pants and underwear and sodomized them. The plaintiffs contend that the ritual dates back several years as part of initiation for being promoted to the varsity soccer team.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, district officials say a similar incident occurred in spring 2008, when at least four freshman baseball players allegedly pulled down a teammate’s pants in the school locker room. The incident was reported to officials at Maine West High School in August 2008, but District 207 administration officials said they didn’t learn about it until Nov. 16, just days before Romanucci sued the district over the alleged soccer player hazing.
The baseball players involved in the 2008 hazing were interviewed and disciplined at the school level, CBS Chicago reports.
Romanucci said the discipline given to the students involved “was much less than a slap on the wrist.”
“My understanding is that the punishment for these children, pulling down the pants of another child and ridiculing him in front of everyone else, was to be withheld one inning from a baseball game,” Romanucci said, according to the Sun-Times.
CBS Chicago reports Romanucci also said five current or former soccer players have told him they were hazed.
Des Plaines police have already charged six students as juveniles with misdemeanor battery and hazing, and 10 students have been disciplined, according to the Sun-Times.