CHICAGO (CBS) – The parents of two Lake Zurich High School football players filed Wednesday a lawsuit against the school district and the team’s coaches for allegations of abusive hazing in the locker room and showers.
Attorneys said the abuse went on at school long before the boys got there. CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports.
At Lake Zurich High School, attorneys for the two boys said the abuse was straight out of the novel “Lord of the Flies.”
“They were brutally mocked, teased, humiliated, embarrassed and emotionally harmed,” said attorney, Antonio Romanucci. “All in the name of team bonding.”
The lawsuit alleges the two football players were abused by their teammates last fall, but the degrading hazing culture at Lake Zurich High did not start then, attorneys say.
Romanucci said the hazing goes back at least 20 years and the team routinely used sexual assault and acts of degradation to haze teammates. The suit describes a player duct-taped naked to a post and players stripped and confined in lockers naked; there are also charges of forced sexual acts, all over a 20-year period.
“These activities were happening right inside the school, inside the locker room, right below the coaches’ offices and in the showers,” Romanucci said.
Romanucci said the hazing remained quiet because of “Lord of the Flies-type tactics” such as intimidation and fear to keep them from ratting out on each other.
Romanucci suggests sexual abuse among athletes across the country probably spread because of social media. The hazing scandal at Lake Zurich High School led to the resignation of athletic director, head football coach, an assistant coach and the dean of students.
“Adults have to know kids value the opinion of their peers more than anyone else.”
Carrie Goldman, who has written a book on bullying, told CBS 2 adults have to convince the young leaders of a team that such hazing is unacceptable.
“If the peers are doing it, the kids will do it too and that culture of silence will just grow,” Goldman said.
The Lake Zurich School District 95 released Wednesday a statement reading, it is “committed to creating a positive culture that does not tolerate hazing of any kind.”
Still, attorney Antonio Romanucci charges his clients continued to be abused after they reported the incident.
“They were brutally mocked and teased as a result of what they had done in terms of revealing what was happening to them and to others,” Romanucci said.
Attorneys insist the school administration should have known the abuse was happening. Several officials are named in the lawsuit, including coaches. Though the boys, who are not identified, are no longer on the football team, they are still students at Lake Zurich High School where officials said they have plan to stop hazing.