Maine West Hazing Victim Discusses Lawsuit Against School
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(CBS) – A former Maine West soccer player who is suing the high school amid accusations of sexual hazing is coming forward to tell his story for the first time.
The former student on Thursday said he was sexually assaulted not once, but twice – once during a summer soccer camp and once freshman classes had begun. Both times, he said he was thrown to the ground from behind, and said his face was pushed into the dirt so he could not see who was assaulting him.
Ashamed, disgusted and angry, he says he quit the team after the second attack.
“I decided to quit because I felt like they didn’t want me there,” he said. “I was ashamed. I didn’t want to be around them anymore. What happened to me impacted me an unreasonable amount. I felt like I couldn’t be around those people anymore.”
He said only later did he begin to hear other stories of players being attacked in the same manner.
The alleged victim, who is now a sophomore in college, says Coach Michael Divincenzo allegedly winked at players before or after sending them on the runs during which the attacks occurred.
Divincenzo has denied any knowledge of the hazing but is in the process of being fired. The Maine Township School Board voted unanimously last month to begin dismissal proceedings at a meeting during which former students defended Divincenzo and suspended freshman coach Emilio Rodriguez.
The former player — his identity is not being disclosed — is one of four students who are suing. His attorney, Antonio Romanucci, has said that the hazing could go back as far as 2006. Six Maine West students have been charged with battery and hazing while the school has disciplined four other players.