Charges Sought Against De La Salle Football Players Who Allegedly Prodded Teammates With Broomsticks Every Thursday

WWJ's Charlie Langton reports it was a Thursday night ritual

WWJ News
November 08, 2019 - 5:55 pm

WARREN, Mich. (WWJ) - Multiple Warren De La Salle High School football players are expected to face charges following a police investigation into hazing allegations.

Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer tells WWJ that police have completed their initial investigation into an incident that ended De La Salle's season last week and the findings will be handed over to the Macomb County Prosecutor's Office Friday, with the recommendation that charges be filed against three players: ages 18, 16 and 16. 

Dwyer did not disclose what the recommended charges would be.

The Pilots, who have won three of the last five state championships, including the last two, were set to begin the playoffs last Friday, but the school announced Thursday the game would be forfeited after allegations that players were hazed in the locker room, an incident that allegedly involved broomsticks used in a sexual manner.

So what exactly happened?

"They had a ritual that every Thursday night there was a dinner at De La Salle for all the football players. After the dinner was when the hazing took place," Dwyer told WWJ's Charlie Langton. "There was a lot of fear that, from students -- from the football players themselves -- that they would be a victim of the hazing, so they immediately got out of there after the dinner, out of the locker room, and left."

The Detroit Free Press reported that football players were forced to lay on the floor, face down, while others prodded them with a broomstick. 

"I'm not going to go into details other than I've gone on record saying it wasn't penetration," Dwyer told Langton. "But they did hold the victim down and use a broomstick."

At this time only one victim has come forward, Dwyer said; a 16-year-old boy. 

"We believe there's many victims," he said. "However, we're not getting cooperation from, I don't think, the players themselves, because of fear. And we're not getting complete cooperation from 15 parents that refused to allow their sons to be interviewed by the detectives here from the Warren Police Department, which is somewhat disturbing."

The school sent a letter to parents on Oct. 31, announcing that the season was canceled and they were investigating hazing allegations. A press release issued later that day called said the "hazing has deeper roots, and is more pervasive than originally thought." 

Dwyer says 59 players were interviewed during the investigation, which was launched Nov. 1 after school administrators brought the case to police. Dwyer said four of the families that refused to cooperate with investigators have retained attorneys.  

It may be awhile, however, before any charges are filed. 

Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith said that because of a possible conflict of interest, he will be asking another office to handle the case. 

"As previously disclosed to the Warren Police, one of our Senior Assistant Prosecutors is potentially a material witness in this matter, creating a conflict that precludes us from making the necessary charging decisions on this case," Smith said. Therefore, to avoid any appearance of impropriety our office will request that another County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office review this matter as it relates to the actions of the individuals suspended by De La Salle officials."

Smith also hinted that another issue could impact proceedings, saying his office was informed that the victim: “Does not wish to further charges and has declined to be interviewed by law enforcement.” 

Meanwhile, there are reports that three students were suspended indefinitely from the school, but a school spokesperson told WWJ they do not comment on student discipline.

Dwyer said De La Salle administrators and staff have been fully cooperative with police.