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4 athletes are charged in St. George hazing

Published: Thursday, July 30 2015 2:52 p.m. MDT

St. George prosecutors have filed hazing charges against four members of Heber's Wasatch High School baseball team.
City prosecutors filed class B misdemeanor hazing charges Friday against four members of the team — Dustin Dorris, Jeffrey Wade, Beau Mark and Parker Sweat. All are 18 years old and will be issued summonses to appear in the Washington County Justice Court, said St. George City Attorney Shawn Guzman.
The incident happened March 10 at the Best Western Motel at 316 E. St. George Blvd., where members of the team were staying while they participated in a baseball tournament. Police said a half-dozen players "dogpiled" on six others in a hazing ritual. Officers said there was some incidental sexual contact.
Several of the students were suspended as Wasatch High School, and the Wasatch County School District investigated. The students went to the school board Thursday night to appeal their removal from the baseball team, said Wasatch County School District Superintendent Terry Shoemaker.
"We take this thing very seriously and intend to do everything we can to eliminate hazing in any of its forms," Shoemaker said.
Prosecutors said it appears the hazing ritual was a tradition. "It was expressed by at least one of the players interviewed that hazing at Wasatch High goes on with all of the teams," Guzman said.
Shoemaker said they were expanding their hazing inquiry into the other teams at the school.
"Some of these long-standing traditions of initiation that turn into hazing are done in ways that nobody really is aware of," he said. "Certainly the coaches are not aware of it. But we intend to put an end to anything that would be illegal or harmful to children."
Guzman blamed the team's coaches and chaperones who were supervising the trip to St. George.
"I think there's inadequate supervision," he said. "The schools provide inadequate supervision. The coaches, in my opinion, did not do enough monitoring of their team."
Shoemaker said three coaches and parents of some of the ballplayers were acting as chaperones.
"We're looking into that to determine whether it was adequate or not," he said. "I think it fit our policies, but obviously the supervision that was there did not prevent a problem."
In 2005, members of the Tooele High School baseball team were charged in connection with videotaped sexual misconduct involving a 15-year-old girl. In that incident, two 19-year-old men pleaded guilty to dealing harmful material to a minor. Two juveniles pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a minor and two pleaded guilty to possession of harmful materials.


E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com

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