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Suit, report allege hazings at suburban high school
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times

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A Des Plaines high school is facing down allegations that it failed to protect varsity soccer players after parents filed suit claiming their son was sexually assaulted in a hazing ritual this year, and the district received a similar report dating back to 2008.

Maine West High School has taken disciplinary action against 10 students and reassigned two coaches over the 2012 incident. Three other coaches have been relieved of their duties.

According to a lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court, the school's varsity coaches ordered the hazing, during which a freshman varsity soccer player was allegedly beaten, held down and sexually assaulted by teammates.

The suit states that team members "grabbed the Plaintiff, forced him down to the ground, then repeatedly struck him on his arms, legs, head, and torso, tore off his pants and underwear, grabbed his testicles, and sodomized him with their fingers, and other foreign objects."

It further alleges that coaches have sanctioned the ritual for years.

According to a statement released by Maine Township High School District 207, the district recently learned that Maine West investigated a similar complaint in 2008, involving the same head coach. That complaint alleged that four baseball players pulled down a teammate's pants in the locker room. The statement said that the 2008 incident was investigated and students were disciplined.

Michael Divincenzo, who has been relieved of his teaching and coaching duties pending an investigation, headed both teams.

In a series of statements, the district said it is taking the complaints seriously.

"We have clear expectations for the conduct of our athletes and coaches, and if there are allegations of misconduct, we have a duty to take them seriously, to conduct an objective investigation of the facts, and to respond accordingly," said District Superintendent Ken Wallace in a statement. "The safety and well-being of our District 207 students is always our highest priority."

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