Former high school soccer coach on trial for failing to report hazing

Dec. 18, 2013 at 2:40 PM   |   0 comments

SKOKIE, Ill., Dec. 18 (UPI) -- The former varsity soccer coach at a high school in the Chicago suburbs is on trial, charged with failing to curb abusive hazing by his players.

Michael Divincenzo, 37, of Elk Grove Village faces charges that include misdemeanor battery, hazing and failing to report abuse, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Some of his former players at Maine West High School in Des Plaines, Ill., testified Tuesday they were subjected to bodily assaults that amounted to sexual abuse.

"It went beyond child's play," Assistant State's Attorney Margaret Ogarek said in her opening statement. "It went beyond horseplay. It wasn't just kids fooling around."

One boy said he was jumped, pushed to the ground and attacked with a stick, the Chicago Tribune said. He said Divincenzo made the varsity players involved do 100 pushups and apologize, but Ogarek said the coach did not do the one thing he should have done -- report the attack to police.

Another witness described the coach threatening players when he was dissatisfied that he would let them be hazed.

The high school fired Divincenzo and conducted its own investigation of his alleged misconduct.

Divincenzo's lawyers say the charges are unwarranted, the Sun-Times said. Todd Pugh said it is "morally and legally wrong" for Divincenzo to be blamed for actions taken by out-of-control teens.

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