NORWOOD, Colo. —
At Maine West High School in Des Plaines, Ill., a Chicago suburb, varsity soccer players allegedly "rewarded" new teammates by holding them down and sodomizing them with sticks and their fingers, while coaches did nothing to intervene, according to court documents and police reports.
After witnessing an attack on a 16-year-old in July, varsity coach Michael DiVincenzo allegedly congratulated the victim and asked him "if it was all good," according to a police report. During a freshman drill, he was alleged to have told players they would be sodomized by the varsity team if they failed to communicate effectively, according to a police report.
DiVincenzo was arrested last month on misdemeanor charges of hazing, battery and failure to report child abuse, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez in Chicago said in a statement. He was released on cash bond and hasn't entered a plea. Charges against varsity players were dropped at the request of the victims' families, Alvarez said.
DiVincenzo's attorney, Thomas Breen, didn't respond to phone messages or email requests for comment. In April, DiVincenzo issued a statement denying "guilt of any kind." In a police interview, he denied knowledge of the alleged attacks.
Maine West, whose board voted to fire DiVincenzo, has cooperated fully with the investigation and hired a former U.S. attorney who cleared the district's handling of the matter, said David Beery, a spokesman. The school has also instituted more training for staff and set up an anonymous Web-based tip line for students to report hazing.
About 4,000 sexual assaults occur each year inside U.S. public schools, as well as 800 rapes or attempted rapes, according to a letter the U.S. Education Department sent to educators in April 2011.
"We don't tolerate this anywhere else in our society," said Antonio Romanucci, a Chicago attorney representing some of the alleged Maine West victims in a civil lawsuit. "So why are we tolerating it in our schools?"