Police, school officials investigating hazing allegations at Jordan High

Published: Thursday, Feb. 7 2013 12:35 p.m. MST

Canyons School District is conducting an investigation into allegations of hazing involving the Jordan High School wrestling team.

Scott G. Winterton, Dnews

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SANDY — Sandy police and Canyons School District officials are investigating allegations of hazing involving the Jordan High School wrestling team.

The district received reports of the alleged hazing — which may involve serious criminal acts — last last week and launched an investigation. The incidents were first reported by a parent.

"During the course of our investigation there were some incidents that were confirmed, and steps were taken according to policy," said district spokeswoman Jennifer Toomer-Cook.

She said she could not comment on what the hazing allegations are. Approximately 80 students are on the wrestling team, but she would not say how many were involved or impacted by the alleged hazing or what steps have been taken so far.

"Hazing is against state law, and we have no tolerance for hazing in Canyons School District," Toomer-Cook said.

Sandy Police Sgt. Jon Arnold said his department also became aware of the allegations late last week when a parent contacted the Jordan High School resource officer. He said the officer then passed the information along to detectives.

"Any time we receive information, we look to see if there are possible criminal acts — that's when we start looking at the allegation," he said. "If there were no alleged criminal activity we wouldn't be looking at it."

Hazing is illegal and punishable under Utah law. Arnold could not say if the allegations went beyond the hazing statute. He said the police investigation is ongoing and in its "infancy" and that investigators are still trying to locate and interview all involved parties.

"We're just making sure that if a crime did occur, it is taken care of appropriately," Arnold said.

Ben Grindstaff, an attorney familiar with the case, said it was his understanding that some of the students involved were not given a hearing or opportunity to be heard.

"Many students were thrown off of the wrestling team for mere allegations," he said. "It's damaged scholarship opportunities and could damage their academic lives."

Several parents at a regional wrestling match held Thursday at Jordan High said they had heard that several students were cut from the wrestling team due to a hazing incident, but few details were known.

An anti-hazing contract that student athletes must agree to before they can participate in sports at Jordan High School defines hazing as anytime "an act is committed against a student or a student is coerced into committing an act that creates a substantial risk of harm to the student or to any third party in order for the student to be initiated into or affiliated with any school activity or organization."

The agreement lists a number of activities that can be classified as hazing, including causing an "unreasonable risk" of physical harm, encouraging the consumption of alcohol, drugs or any other potentially harmful substance, actions of a sexual nature or simulating actions of a sexual nature, subjecting students to embarrassment, shame or humiliation or violating the law.

"Athletes, coaches, advisers or students are responsible to report any of the above violations to any member of the (Jordan High School) administration or the athletic director," the agreement states. "Improper behavior as described above may lead to the loss of a student's participation privileges."

Contributing: Benjamin Wood

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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