Officials and athletic coaches at a northern Illinois high school took part in a system of hazing for 20 years — which included instances of teammates urinating on and “sodomizing other players with broomsticks,” according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday morning.
The case was brought forth by the parents of two Lake Zurich High School football players who claimed their children suffered physical and emotional abuse during the 2016 season. Their attorney, Antonio Romanucci, said they were “brutally mocked, teased, humiliated, embarrassed, and emotionally harmed…all in the name of team bonding,” according to CBS Chicago.
The complaint alleged hazing at Lake Zurich went as far back as the late 90’s and included rituals such as “Birthday Beatdowns,” the boys’ cross country team duct taping naked teammates to a post, and the wrestling team tying naked teammates to practice dummies.
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“Hazing rituals and traditions are a form of bullying and have been part of the culture of the Lake Zurich football team for years. The teams’ coaches have sanctioned these rituals, while other school officials – including Lake Zurich’s principal turned a blind eye toward the abuse, even after the abuse was reported to them,” the complaint detailed, according to the Cook County Record.
The suit also made disturbing accusations of sexual abuse: players putting genitals on teammates’ faces; players punching partners in the genitals; multiple athletes urinating on a teammate in the shower; players sodomizing partners with broomsticks; and athletes forcing teammates to perform oral sex on one another.
The plaintiffs are seeking at least $50,000 in damages. They also are asking the court to end the system of abuse at Lake Zurich by mandating district-wide training programs so employees can “stop students from hazing/bullying other students.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, head coach David Proffitt and former assistant coach and dean of students Chad Beaver resigned earlier this month. Athletic Director Rolando Vazquez announced he would step down at the end of the school year.
“In the 11 years I have been at LZ [Lake Zurich], anytime we felt that a player was being humiliated in any way what so ever, we stopped it and made sure those involved understood the wrong in what they were doing,” Proffitt said. “Never did I know of anything like that [oral sex allegations] taking place…I am amazed that because of one or two individuals’ claims, the whole program and coaches are given a black eye.”
District officials told the Daily Herald they “will not comment publicly on pending litigation