Oklahoma High School Officials Waited Eight Days Before Reporting Hazing Sexual Assault of Student Athlete.
Officials at an Bixby High School in Bixby, Oklahoma, failed to promptly report the sexual assault of a 16-year-old football player by several teammates. Officials started their investigation after hearing of “an alleged hazing incident,” and waited eight days before contacting police, records show. As reported by the Associate Press:
The Nov. 2 report, released Wednesday by Bixby High School, said the Tulsa-area school’s investigation began Oct. 26. It included interviews with the boy and his mother, who told officials that a teammate had inserted a pool cue into his anus through his shorts.
An affidavit filed last month by investigators provided a fuller account of the assault, which took place in September during a team function at the superintendent’s house. The football player told detectives he was assaulted by one player while three others held him down. Investigators say a fifth player recorded the assault on a cellphone, and another blocked a door, according to the affidavit.
The boy also told investigators in the earlier affidavit that he had been assaulted in a similar manner during a team function at the superintendent’s house in 2016. The Nov. 2 report by the school references “two separate occasions” in which “a hazing incident resulted.”
Authorities have seized the cellphones of several administrators and football players and ordered emails from the superintendent, principal, athletic director and football coach. They said last month that the delay by school officials in reporting the assault may have jeopardized investigators’ ability to recover key evidence.
A search warrant said some school officials may have tried to “not report the incident at all” — which is a misdemeanor offense under Oklahoma law.
Monica Beck, a nationally acclaimed K-12 hazing and sexual assault victims attorney who represents the family of the Ooltewah High School rape victim who was sodomized with a pool cue by teammates explains in a written statement to the Times Free Press:
“Schools are required by federal and state law to prohibit violent hazing and gender-based violence. This young man had a right to participate on the basketball team without sacrificing his physical and emotional safety to hazing traditions long known and tolerated by school officials.”
Beck filed a lawsuit in Federal Court on behalf of the victim stating Ooltewah District Administrators and employees knew a culture of abuse had been taking place for years, “and their failure to remediate this rampant abuse resulted in escalation of male student athlete’s harassment, hazing, and assaults of teammates.”
Having represented victims of similar tragedies associated with hazing and sexual assault, our hope is that all those involved are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law – students seeking to participate in school teams and programs should be protected from hazing and sexual violence; hazing is not a matter of simple “horseplay,” or validly explained away by the notions that “boys will be boys.”