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Second Hazing Investigation at Maine West Opened

After a lawsuit alleging sexual assault and hazing of a student was filed last week, D-207 launched another investigation--this time into a hazing incident that reportedly took place in 2008. It involved a coach also named in this month's lawsuit.

OUTSIDE CHICAGO, IL -- After a parent brought a hazing and sexual assault lawsuit against a Des Plaines high school last week, a second family stepped forward to allege their child was the victim of hazing on a sports team at the school. 

The second family said their child was on the Maine West High School freshman boys' baseball team in 2008, when Michael Divincenzo was coach. D-207 has launched investigations into both sets of allegations.

The 2012 lawsuit, filed on Nov. 19, named Divincenzo, along with other administrators, faculty, staff and the high school district, as being the responsible adults in charge when the hazing took place in September 2012. Their child was on a soccer team.

On Monday, Nov. 26, Maine Township High School District 207, which operates Maine West, Maine East and Maine South High Schools, continued to respond to allegations of hazing. It released a statement that said:

District 207 became aware on Friday, November 16, 2012 that there was a spring of 2008 hazing incident that was brought to the attention of the Maine West High School Administration in August of 2008 by a parent of the alleged victim. The report stated that the event took place in the spring of 2008 on the Maine West freshman baseball team coached by Mike DiVencenzo. The students involved were interviewed by the school’s deans and had discipline consequences assigned. The incident involved at least four other freshman baseball players who are alleged to have pulled a teammate’s pants down in a school locker room.

When the mother of the victim contacted the Maine Township High School Superintendent’s office on Friday, November 16, 2012 the parent was interviewed by an Assistant Superintendent and then was subsequently reached by phone on multiple occasions by Superintendent Ken Wallace who sought to fully investigate the event. On Wednesday, November 21, the victim’s family informed Dr. Wallace that, on the advice of their attorney, they did not wish to speak to the District any further about the event.

District reported allegations to legal authorities

Wallace instructed district officials to immediately notify the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services regarding the incident in 2008, according to the statement. DCFS and D-207 have ongoing investigations into the incident in September 2012.

Regarding the incident in 2008, D-207 stated, “From the moment that the District became aware of any allegations it has insisted that the appropriate agencies be notified and it has cooperated fully with those agencies and their investigations while launching its own internal investigation to identify all involved and take appropriate disciplinary action.”

Read the entire statement, posted with this story, from Maine Township High School District 207 regarding a report of hazing at Maine West High School in 2008.

Lawsuit filed Nov. 19 named several administrators

The lawsuit filed Nov. 19 by Maine West parents stated their son was physically and sexually assaulted as part of a known hazing ritual for the boys’ varsity soccer team in September 2012. Divincenzo, varsity boys’ soccer coach, Audrey Haugan, principal at Maine West, Emilio Rodriguez, Maine Township High School District 207 and unknown faculty, coaches and staff are named in the complaint.

As a result of D-207’s investigation into the reported hazing incident in September 2012, disciplinary action was taken against 10 students, according to the statement, and two coaches, Divincenzo, Rodriguez, freshmen soccer coach, were relieved of their coaching and teaching duties, were temporarily reassigned, with pay, pending the conclusion of the investigation. Three coaches who were not Maine West teachers, were removed from their coaching responsibilities, the school district stated.

There have been no similar accusations at Maine East or Maine South High Schools, said Dave Beery, District 207 communications director. 

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peach petal November 30, 2012 at 02:30 AM
It's disgusting! It seems like a witch hunt! My kids graduated from MW, they both knew the coaches and I met one of them, they are great coaches and teachers who love their jobs. It's not fair for their names to be put out there for people to go drawing their own conclusions when they don't know them!
Kathleen Benischek November 30, 2012 at 02:41 AM
I agree that the names should not be spread around, but just sticking to the facts. Also, I just wish this would just accomplish setting a standard to prevent future problems. There is a verse in the Bible that says, "Let not your good be evil spoken of". The only way that can be done is to put up boundaries that cannot be broken through, kind of like a wall or a fence; not literally of course.
Mary Beth November 30, 2012 at 06:15 PM
While it is crucial to wait for evidence from a complete investigation, there are certainly enough allegations to warrant concern. Where there is smoke, there is fire. Something happened, no doubt. To summarily dismiss these parents' motives as purely monetary is naive and disparaging. While the victims' names are currently withheld, they will eventually have to testify. What parent would put their child through hell based on false allegations for a few bucks? It is not uncommon, after one assault has been publicized, for others to step forward. They were no doubt reluctant to come forward due to humiliation, fear of retribution, isolation and fears of not being believed. There is strength in solidarity and the outrage felt when learning that this behavior has not been stopped. While we all would like to believe that we have the safety and well being of our children at the forefront, not all parents have the strength and savvy it takes to sue. The mother from the 2008 incident thought she did what was best for her son by putting her concerns in writing and having her son transferred. I cannot imagine the horror and indignation that she felt when learning that 4 years later, this behavior has not stopped but has escalated. There are greater purposes to lawsuits than just money. If I were the parent of any of these kids, the least of my concern would be money, but insuring that any and all involved were punished, and that this never happen again. Time will tell.
peach petal December 01, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Where is the proof that the coaches knew about the hazing? All hearsay and everyday there's a picture of Divo in the paper! What about his family? Nobody has the right to do this to the coaches and this should be no reflection on MW faculty, it shows that parents are asleep at the wheel, until something comes up that they could potentially profit from.
Dick John December 04, 2012 at 11:19 PM
The parents are not to blame. They put their children in a sports program provided by the school and supervised by faculty. Unfortunately, the staff is immature and unprofessional. I don't know the MW faculty or coach Divo, however I do know for something like that to happen on school grounds under his supervision is disgusting, immoral, and unethical. Where is his integrity? Does the district evaluate its staff before they are hired? Evidently not.

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