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CHICAGO (CBS) – Some former students are coming to the defense of a Maine West High School coach embroiled in a hazing scandal.
CBS 2’s Pamela Jones reports.
Maine West soccer team members and other students whom Michael Divincenzo taught know him as “Divo.”
He is at the center of a series of allegations of sexual hazing allegedly committed by varsity members on the team.
Police reports CBS 2 obtained list a series of alleged cases from July to September of this year. Several new team members claim varsity members sodomized them in a far corner of school campus and even once at summer camp.
In a July incident, the alleged victim reported that Divincenzo “witnessed the act,” and then “congratulated the victim” and “welcomed him, and asked if it was all good.”
Former student Matthew Mussar doubts that.
“I don’t believe he did it. I don’t believe he knew anything about it, if it did happen,” he says.
Jones met with former Maine West students who say Divincenzo taught them in an adventure education class.
“I was having problems at home and he was pretty much a father figure to me,” Meghan Penebaker says.
The students are supporting Divincenzo through a Facebook page where they’re sharing positive stories about him.
The organizer makes it clear they’re not trying to hurt the families of alleged assault victims.
“I don’t believe that they’re lying because there is substantial evidence that the boys were abused at some point,” Ashley Owens says. “But I don’t believe that Divo would have done it or watched it or allowed it in any way.”