Soccer coach acquitted in Illinois hazing case

Jan. 16, 2014 at 4:57 PM
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CHICAGO, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- A soccer coach in a Chicago suburb had no responsibility to report hazing by his players, a judge said as he cleared Michael Divincenzo of criminal charges.

The judge acquitted Divincenzo on Wednesday of hazing, battery and failure to report abuse, the Chicago Tribune reported. Cook County Circuit Judge Joe Warnick said Divincenzo could not be convicted of actions committed by others.

Divincenzo, who lost his job in the wake of the hazing scandal at Maine West High School in Des Plaines, Ill., still faces civil suits.

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said the trial brought needed attention to the issue.

"Despite the outcome, it is my hope that this case will help to ensure that any student at Maine West or any other school will be protected from any potential harm or humiliation caused by the illegal and reckless act of hazing," she said in a statement.

Older players on the Maine West soccer team allegedly ambushed younger ones in attacks that included pulling down their pants and poking them.

"This was not OK, it was not horseplay, it was wrong," Warnick said, adding there was no proof Divincenzo knew what was going on.

A new law in Illinois, inspired by the case, requires hazing to be reported if anyone is injured.

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