(10/07/2008)
By Bob Weaver

The Calhoun school system is saying that an incident that took place in a Calhoun High School locker room in August with a 16-year-old football player could have been harassment.

In response to a formal complaint filed by the youth's parents, the county administration has issued a "report of investigation of harassment allegation."

The incident involves allegations that the player's wrists and legs were bound together by several team players, using tape, and was taken to the floor.

"Legal action is being taken," says Sherry Patterson, stating "The school's hazing policy was certainly violated." A civil suit is being filed by Charleston attorney Tim Carrico, Patterson said.

Sgt. Jeff Skidmore of the Grantsville State Police stressed to the Parkersburg News the incident was not a hazing complaint.

"We have a battery investigation," he told the News. "We are conducting an investigation of battery against a 16-year-old boy."

Skidmore did not respond to a request regarding the current status of the investigation.

Patterson's parents, using photographs taken during a medical exam, say he received some physical harm from the incident, in addition to "severe emotional distress."

"If you meet someone on the street and bind their hands and feet together, putting them to the ground against their will, it is assault and battery. In the Calhoun school system it is not even hazing, it's just horseplay," Patterson said.

The youth has since withdrawn from Calhoun High School and is attending school in a neighboring county.

"Gathered information does not indicate hazing, as stated in the county's "Racial, Sexual, Religious/Ethnic Harassment, Violence and Hazing" policy," according to the response issued by county school officials.

The confidential response was given to the youth's mother, Sherry Patterson of Orma, who is releasing the document to the Calhoun Chronicle, the Hur Herald and regional media.

The school system says "The Human Rights officer (Kathy Nichols) finds there was not a finding of hazing."

"Gathered information does indicate restraint of the alleged victim by other students," it said.

Cpl. Doug Starcher, who is handling the investigation, told the Parkersburg News, "I need to do a bunch of interviews and find out what happened."

"The info I have obtained so far is there has been some horseplay ... I don't think anything out of the ordinary," he said.

School superintendent Jane Lynch told the Parkersburg News, "Punishment will depend on the findings."

The school has confirmed that players involved in the incident did sit out a scrimmage game.

Following the incident, former principal Roger Propst, speaking on behalf of the players, said "The families of the boys involved have every right to believe that as far as school discipline is concerned, the issue is over."

Calhoun school administration is making recommendations regarding the incident, "to increase awareness when dealing with this kind of situation."

- "It is recommended the school should provided harassment training for students, staff and all coaches and lay coaches."

- "It is recommended the school provide "Respect and Protect" training for all students, staff and all coaches and lay coaches."

- "It is also recommended that the school offer counseling service, through the school guidance counselor, to students directly involved in this incident."

In 1999, a former Calhoun High football player turned 18 was helping with football camp, when he was involved in an incident where he defecated on the head and shoulder of a first year 15-year-old player.

Several players, according to court records, chased and restrained the youth, wrapping him in a wrestling mat.

The youth's parents said the players were not being supervised, nor did the school notify them of the incident.

The incident was described as "horseplay" by school officials, but a battery charge was filed in the case.

The court found the youth guilty of battery, and the Calhoun school system eventually settled a civil suit filed by the victim's parents.

PATTERSON AND PROPST ISSUE STATEMENTS REGARDING ALLEGED HAZING INCIDENT

ALLEGED CALHOUN HIGH FOOTBALL HAZING INCIDENT INVESTIGATED

BOARD DENIES OPEN FORUM DISCUSSION OVER ALLEGED HAZING INCIDENT

CALHOUN SPEAKERS DENIED PUBLIC FORUM - School Boards In Difficult Spot


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