UPDATED 12/17/2013 – 5:49 p.m.
SKOKIE, Ill. (CBS) — A former Maine West High School soccer coach went on trial Tuesday, accused of hiding some extreme hazing carried out by his players.
CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez reports, while students at Maine West have said it was their teammates who assaulted them, prosecutors have said the coach was in the room, and did nothing to stop it.
Michael Divincenzo, 37, has been charged with misdemeanor battery, hazing and failure to report abuse. Divincenzo has opted for a bench trial, rather than a trial by jury.
The allegations first surfaced last year. Since then, five soccer players have come forward, claiming their older teammates sexually assaulted them, Divincenzo knew all about it.
One of Tuesday’s witnesses, a player on the team, appeared to counter that assertion.
“We had agreed as a team to attack them and initiate them,” the witness said.
“He [Divincenzo] had no idea. “We decided ourselves.”
In August, an attorney for one of the boys described what allegedly happened to at least one student.
“He was tackled, he was held down and his pants were pulled down,” Tony Romanucci said. “It’s unfortunate now that Maine West has become the national poster child for hazing, sexual abuse, and scandal in sports.”
Divincenzo and another coach, Emilio Rodriguez, were fired after allegations came to light.
Divincenzo has denied guilt.