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Crime & Courts

Wheaton College football players charged in hazing incident

College officials 'deeply troubled' by allegations

Wheaton College
Wheaton College

WHEATON – Several Wheaton College football players are facing criminal charges after a freshman teammate was restrained with duct tape, beaten and left half-naked with two torn shoulders on a baseball field as part of a 2016 hazing incident, according to media reports.

The players – James Cooksey, Kyler Kregel, Benjamin Pettway, Noah Spielman and Samuel TeBos – have been charged with aggravated battery, mob action and unlawful restraint, the reports stated.

There is a $50,000 arrest warrant for each player, DuPage County State's Attorney's Office spokesman Paul Darrah said.

Wheaton College released a statement saying it was "deeply troubled" by the allegations.

"Wheaton College aspires to provide an educational environment that is not only free of hazing, but practices our values as a Christian community," the college said in the statement. "As such, we are deeply troubled by the allegations brought by law enforcement against five members of our football team. When this incident was brought to our attention by other members of the football team and coaching staff in March 2016, the college took swift action to initiate a thorough investigation. Our internal investigation into the incident, and our engagement with an independent, third-party investigator retained by the college, resulted in a range of corrective actions. We are unable to share details on these disciplinary measures due to federal student privacy protections."

College officials said they have fully cooperated with authorities in their investigation, and in light of the incident, the college's Board of Trustees has engaged outside experts to review the campus's anti-hazing policy and "the culture around how students treat one another in our campus communities, athletic teams and organizations."

"To not impede the law enforcement investigation, the college was bound by confidentiality and unable to share more information until now," the statement read. "The conduct we discovered as a result of our investigation into this incident was entirely unacceptable and inconsistent with the values we share as human beings and as members of an academic community that espouses to live according to our Community Covenant."

The college revised its anti-hazing policy in 2014 and improved its training protocols to "include a formal review of our anti-hazing policy with all student athletes every year, with required student signatures; we also require annual training for residence assistants who are responsible for residence hall activities," according to the statement.

"Despite these deeply troubling charges, we have experienced positive changes on campus, including rapid responses from campus leaders to reports of hazing or other inappropriate behavior and effective disciplinary review," the statement read.

This is a developing story. Check back at mysuburbanlife.com/wheaton for updates as they become available.

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