CHICAGO (CBS) — Prosecutors have opted to level only misdemeanor charges against a Maine West High School soccer coach who was fired for allegedly allowing the hazing of his players.
The charges against Michael DiVincenzo are battery, hazing and failure to report such conduct — all misdemeanors, and none sex-related. Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez says prosecutors came to that decision after interviewing more than 100 people and determining that there was no intent to exact sexual gratification.
Still, she said, “The thought of any teenaged boy being subjected to this type of degrading and humiliating attack is not only heartbreaking, it is outrageous and it is unacceptable.”
In addition, Alvarez has dropped criminal charges against the players who allegedly administered the hazing, saying parents did not wish to pursue the charges. Civil suits remain, and the attorney representing two freshmen players issued a statement in which he again asserted that his clients were “brutally sexually abused.”
Divincenzo turned himself into Des Plaines Police Wednesday morning and has since been released on bond.
Alvarez said she has no plans to charge anyone else in connection with the case — player, coach or school staff.
“The fact that Coach Divincenzo has been criminally charged brings no joy to the families whose children were brutally sexually abused while educators stood idly by allowing it to happen,” said Antonio M. Romanucci, attorney for the plaintiffs.
“It does, however, bring vindication and relief to all those involved that justice is being served and there will be accountability. No child should ever be a victim of sexual abuse, and this is one more step in the prevention of any heinous acts towards our children.”