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    Illinois High School Sports Team Had Sexual Abuse Tradition for Two Decades

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    High school athletics teams in Lake Zurich, Illinois, have allegedly had a history of physical and sexual abuse, beginning in 1997, according to a federal lawsuit filed by two victims.

    Members of football, cross-country, and wrestling teams at the high school in Lake Zurich, Illinois, were physically and sexually abused as a rite of passage, according to a federal lawsuit filed by two victims. The lawsuit claims that both participants and victims have stayed quiet for decades out of fear of further humiliation.

    According to the lawsuit, members of the football team engaged in a "team bonding" ritual called "[expletive] of the Week" that included making players strip naked, being urinated on and, at times, being forced to perform nonconsensual oral sex on other players.

    Antonio Romanucci, an attorney representing the victims, says he is assured that, while only two victims have stepped forward, there are many others who have stayed silent.

    "I am clear and convinced that there are other victims. However, as I've learned throughout these cases, many of these victims either will not come forward or they will come forward but will not proceed to the (lawsuit) level where we're at right here because of continued fear," he said, according to the Daily Herald.

    The lawsuit also alleges that the school's cross-country runners and wrestlers had their own traditions, with the former duct-taping a team member to a post, and the latter chasing, beating and harassing a member on their birthday, in what was called a "birthday beatdown."

    ​The 67-page lawsuit claims the school district, former head coach, former assistant coach and dean of students, volunteer coach, athletic director, superintendent, and several unnamed school coaches as defendants. According to the complaint, the coaches were aware of the hazing practices and did nothing to prevent them.

    "When coaches know there's hazing going on in the school, they are subject to being charged with hazing if they knew about it and didn't report it," Romanucci said, according to WLS-TV.

    Coaches Chad Beaver and David Proffitt were placed on leave immediately after the lawsuit was filed. They resigned shortly thereafter. Athletic director Rolando Vazquez will resign at the end of the academic year.

    Proffitt has denied any knowledge of the practices.

    "That is not true, at least from my perspective. I can't speak for other coaches, though," he said, according to the Daily Herald.

    "We have always tried to do the right thing in preparing (players) for life's challenges, while keeping them and the program's best interest at heart," Proffit commented to reporters.

    "In the 11 years I have been at LZ, anytime we felt that a player was being humiliated in any way what so ever, we stopped it & made sure those involved understood the wrong in what they were doing," he added.

    When parents of one of the students contacted Beaver by phone and demanded an explanation, the coach said that 14 teammates witnessed what occurred, and that it "happens all the time" and "even I got peed on in high school," according to the lawsuit.

    Officials with Lake Zurich District 95 refused to comment on "pending litigation," but noted that new practices have been introduced to provide more surveillance and control over the school premises. "The district is committed to creating a positive culture that does not tolerate hazing of any kind," administrators said in a Wednesday statement.

    Romanucci, however, believes this will not be enough. According to Romanucci, the school district will not implement effective measures "until a court tells them that they have to do it," the Chicago Tribune reports.

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    Tags:
    harrassment, sexual abuse, students, lawsuit, violence, Lake Zurich High School, Lake Zurich, United States, Illinois
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