7 people will be charged in connection to alleged Warren De La Salle hazing case

Posted at 11:28 AM, Feb 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-20 17:26:13-05

Seven people are expected to be charged in connection to the alleged hazing involving the Warren De La Salle football team, sources tell 7 Action News.

According to the sources, five of them will be charged as adults and two will be juveniles. All will face either misdemeanor assault or misdemeanor assault and battery charges. The five adults are 18 and the two juveniles were 16 at the time.

We're told the teens will be allowed to turn themselves in in the coming days.

The charges are directly tied to new evidence after a new parent came forward after the St. Clair County Prosecutor originally declined to press charges the day before. Sources tell us there are two victims in the case, and new evidence was learned after that parent came forward.

"Earlier this morning, we had a call from a concerned parent and we confirmed that his son, he is indicating, was a victim. He was disappointed that no charges came forward, but those charges didn't come forward only because the De La Salle administration didn't cooperate with the prosecutor's office," Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer told 7 Action News on Jan. 29. "He's indicated that he's coming in to make a police report today relative to his son being a victim of a hazing incident at De La Salle."

In November 2019, the St. Clair County prosecutor took over the investigation involving the Warren De La Salle football team.

Macomb County prosecutor Eric Smith recused himself from the case because one of the office's senior assistant prosecutors is a potential material witness in the case. That created a conflict of interest that "precludes us from making the necessary charging decisions on this case."

After the investigation from police and the prosecutor’s office, St. Clair County Prosecutor Michael D. Wendling declined to press charges, despite being “confident that a criminal incident did occur.

“We do not have admissible evidence to move forward with prosecution,” Wendling added in a letter.

The review included an independent examination by the St. Clair County Prosecutor's Office. That review included re-contacting and re-interviewing witnesses, attempting to speak to all victims in the case, speaking to school administrators and coaching staff at De La Salle, and attempting to gain access to all evidence and reports surrounding the case, the prosecutor's office said Tuesday.

With that being done, Wendling says there is still a lack of evidence to bring about charges.

"The lack of evidence is the result of multiple circumstances that are beyond our control," he said. "By the time the Warren Police Department had been contacted in relation to this incident important evidence had already been lost or destroyed."

The school abruptly canceled their football season in November after claims varsity players used broomsticks in a sexual manner to haze younger players in the locker room ritual.

Police say there was no penetration. Out of 87 players, police said 18 refused to talk in the first investigation.
The Warren Police Department asked the Macomb County prosecutor to file assault charges against three teens connected to the hazing incident.

The students involved in the investigation filed a lawsuit, claiming they are being discriminated against due to their race. They note that of the 13 students initially implicated, the only students who were suspended are minorities, while the remaining ten students have faced "no discipline whatsoever" and are Caucasian.

According to the lawsuit, the three students have been suspended for 46 days. Two of the students are in danger of not graduating. The lawsuit states that they were approached by De La Salle administrators at the direction of its president, John Knight, and have been asked to implicate other students in order to get back into the school.

De La Salle responded to the allegations in a statement saying, in part, "The leadership at De La Salle Collegiate will continue to cooperate with local law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office as they engage this case. Our faculty, staff, and leadership team will continue to take appropriate action based upon the facts around this incident and to ensure that it does not occur in the future."

Read the full statement below:

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