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DailyTidings.com
  • 2 AHS students involved in hazing get sanctioned

    Third student not charged or disciplined; trial of fourth minor delayed
  • Three Ashland High School football players who faced charges of felony coercion against teammates during a summer football training camp will not be required to go before a judge in juvenile court.
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  • Three Ashland High School football players who faced charges of felony coercion against teammates during a summer football training camp will not be required to go before a judge in juvenile court.
    Two of the players were placed on a formal accountability agreement for hazing, said Joe Ferguson, deputy director of Jackson County Juvenile Services.
    The two players are required to meet weekly with a probation officer and give a presentation to an elementary school class on how sports provides an opportunity for leadership instead of using power to engage in hazing incidents, Ferguson said.
    If they comply with these conditions by June 16, their juvenile files will be closed and they will be eligible to have their record expunged when they are 18 years old, Ferguson said.
    The third AHS player was not charged or placed on a diversion agreement.
    None of the AHS players, whose names are being withheld because they are minors, had prior records, according to Juvenile Services.
    Formal accountability agreements are common with first-time offenders when there is a low risk to re-offend and conditions can be met without the need to file a petition and take a youth through juvenile court, Ferguson said.
    Last year, about 25 percent of Jackson County's youth dispositions resulted in a formal accountability agreement, he said.
    After the Ashland Police Department spent six months investigating possible hazing incidents in dorm rooms at a football training camp held June 21-24, 2012, at Linfield College in McMinnville, they filed a 122-page summary and petition to the Jackson County District Attorney's Office.
    One teen boy under the guardianship of the Oregon Youth Authority, who was not enrolled in AHS but attended the training camp with AHS players, was arrested in January on four counts of first-degree attempted sexual penetration with a finger and five counts of coercion for inducing AHS football players to engage in conduct constituting a crime.
    His trial was set for May 3, but was postponed upon the request of his attorney. No new trial date has been set.
    The youth, who has a record of assault and unlawful manufacturing and delivery of a controlled substance, had practiced four times last summer with the AHS football team and was given permission to attend the football camp with the team and coaches.
    Ashland School District Superintendent Juli Di Chiro said the incidents and investigation have "caused us to re-examine the past practices."
    Ashland police interviewed 48 students, parents, coaches and faculty and concluded that Ashland's football club has no history of hazing or sexual assault.
    "Even though it's a serious incident, at no point did we uncover that it's pervasive," Chief Terry Holderness said. "Based on interviews, no one said they felt unsafe in the Ashland football program."
    The Ashland School District's no-tolerance policy on hazing, harassment, intimidation, bullying, cyber-bullying and menacing at school or school-sponsored events states that violators "will be subject to discipline, up to and including expulsion."
    In January, after the school district conducted its own investigation, the three AHS football players were suspended and banned from participating in athletics for a year.
    Two of the players also faced charges of conspiracy to attempt to commit unlawful sexual penetration in the first degree.
    Jackson County Sexual Assault Response Team, Community Works and Ashland police continue to conduct sexual assault prevention programs at Ashland Middle School and Ashland High School as they have for three years.
    A Community Works employee and others were asked to talk to the players soon after the Linfield incidents.
    On April 25, AHS Principal Michelle Zundel encouraged the entire student body to hear Southern Oregon University speaker Jackson Katz talk about gender violence prevention in schools and sports. AHS football players attended.
    The incidents did not impact fundraising efforts for the 2013 Pacific Rim Bowl, in which the football team will play the Japanese All-Stars July 27 at Oji Stadium in Kobe, Japan. The team has to raise more than $100,000, which they accomplish through fundraising events and work crews.
    At a fundraising dinner on Feb. 9, the raffle ticket winner gave the prize — a $2,000 plane ticket — to his neighbor, an AHS football player.
    After learning of the incidents last summer, head football Coach Charlie Hall emailed players' parents in June to say that "the incident at camp started off as a prank among a small group. That prank turned into hazing. When physical threats were added to the hazing, then that became a potential assault."
    Reach reporter Janet Eastman at 541-776-4465 or jeastman@dailytidings.com.
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