Eleven members of the Coventry High School wrestling team have been suspended from school for their alleged involvement in a hazing incident prior to the team's final regular-season match last week.
Eight first-year wrestlers were said to have been lured into a locker room by their attackers before coaches arrived and were reportedly punched, kicked and assaulted with a broomstick.
The incident occurred Feb. 6 before a match against Southeast and Firestone.
"It happened some time between 2:30 and 3:30 p.m," Coventry Superintendent Rusty Chaboudy said. "Because we don't have a high school gym, the wrestlers have to use the middle school. They weren't supposed to come in before 3 o'clock, and that's part of what we're investigating, how they got in there. We have a locked school, and we're trying to figure out how they got into that area."
The 11 wrestlers accused in the incident have been suspended from school and two have been recommended for expulsion for their role in the alleged attack, according to Chaboudy. The accused wrestlers were in school Monday and the allegations were brought to high school administrators at the end of the day by parents of two wrestlers who were victims in the alleged incident.
Once the allegations came to light, the 11 wrestlers were suspended and an investigation took place on Tuesday and Wednesday as sheriff's deputies conducted interviews with school personnel and students.
The expulsion hearing will take place within 10 days and will involve the students, their parents, Chaboudy and high school administrators. All 11 wrestlers accused in the attack are juveniles, according to Chaboudy.
Chaboudy said the district has a zero-tolerance policy on bullying, with penalties up to and including expulsion.
"With bullying, hazing and harassment, the district has spelled out a very specific policy of zero tolerance," Chaboudy said. "We have a character program here, and we do anti-bullying education. We're extremely disappointed not only that incident occurred, but that no one reported it or told an adult right away."
The school has completed its investigation and is waiting on the Summit County Sheriff's Department to complete its investigation and decide on any potential charges against the accused individuals. The superintendent expressed disappointment over the incident, but said he was not aware of any similar occurrences either by the wrestling team or in the district. District officials are attempting to determine whether this was an isolated incident or if there is a history of hazing within the program.
"This is the first one that we're aware of and we're trying to determine whether there has been a culture and an ongoing process of this," Chaboudy said. "We're not tolerating it."
Head coach Keith Shinn, who is employed by the Akron Police Department, has been placed on indefinite leave while the investigation proceeds, according to Chaboudy.
Page 2 of 2 - Despite the absence of the suspended wrestlers, the Comets will compete in the sectional tournament this weekend. Assistant coach Ed Egan, who is also the school's head football coach, will lead the team at the meet.
No charges have been filed.
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