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Abuse, neglect found in soccer hazing case

Feb. 10, 2013 at 1:49 PM   |   Comments

DES PLAINES, Ill., Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Illinois officials say there is credible evidence two employees abused or neglected students at a Des Plaines high school mired in a soccer team hazing scandal.

Dave Clarkin, a spokesman for the Department of Children and Family Services, declined to say, however, whether the two Maine West High School staff members were boys and girls varsity soccer Coach Michael Divincenzo and freshman boys Coach Emilion Rodriguez, the Chicago Tribune reported Sunday. The suspended coaches, who have previously denied any knowledge of the hazing uncovered in November and which allegedly included beatings and sodomy, could not be reached for comment Saturday, the newspaper said.

Clarkin said three allegations of abuse and seven of neglect were substantiated against one staff member. Four allegations of neglect were substantiated against the second staff member, he said.

Several other allegations against both were determined to be unfounded, he said.

School district spokesman David Beery declined Saturday to comment on the findings.

"From the initial onset of this, when we first received reports in September, we notified DCFS right away and have been cooperating with their investigation all along," Beery said.

Maine Township High School District 207 officials have disciplined 10 students and did not renew the contracts of three other Maine West High coaches.

The school is being sued by the parents of a 14-year-old boy who allege soccer coaches and school officials allowed a culture of hazing dating to 2007 that led to their son being sodomized and beaten by teammates on Sept. 27.

The Cook County state's attorney's office also is investigating the matter.

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