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Hazing At Wheaton

For Christ, His Kingdom, and almighty football, it appears (rchdj10/Shutterstock)

This happened at Wheaton College. Let me repeat: this happened at Wheaton College, the nation’s top Evangelical school:

Five Wheaton College football players face felony charges after being accused of a 2016 hazing incident in which a freshman teammate was restrained with duct tape, beaten and left half-naked with two torn shoulders on a baseball field.

DuPage County Judge Joseph Bugos signed arrest warrants and set $50,000 bonds against the players — James Cooksey, Kyler Kregel, Benjamin Pettway, Noah Spielman and Samuel TeBos — late Monday afternoon. Prosecutors charged the athletes with aggravated battery, mob action and unlawful restraint.

They are expected to turn themselves in to authorities this week.

Three of the accused played in Wheaton College’s victory over Carthage College Saturday, and all were listed on the team roster as of Monday afternoon. The Division III program is ranked fourth in the country. 

The victim, who the Tribune is not naming, left the conservative Christian school shortly after the incident and now attends college in Indiana.

According to the unnamed victim’s statement to police, here’s what they did to him:

The student told investigators that he was watching the NCAA basketball tournament in a dorm room on March 19, 2016, when several teammates entered the room and tackled him, according to the documents. The freshman kicked his legs and yelled at them to stop, only to be punched and have his bare legs and wrists wrapped in duct tape, the victim said.

The players put a pillow case over the 19-year-old freshman’s head and took him from the residence hall. Though there was a “root beer kegger” taking place in the dorm that night, no students or college employees intervened as the freshman was carried out of the building, according to the records.

The freshman told investigators that he was placed in the back seat of a teammate’s vehicle and held down by at least two players while others piled into the vehicle. After the vehicle began moving, the players played Middle Eastern music and made offensive comments about Muslims, according to the victim’s account.

At one point, the players suggested to the freshman that he had been kidnapped by Muslims who wanted to fornicate with goats, the teen told investigators. They patted his foot and suggested he would be their “goat” for the evening, the records said.

The freshman told investigators that his teammates restrained him with more duct tape during the drive, pulled down his shorts and underwear, then repeatedly tried to insert an object into his rectum. After the freshman yelled at them to stop, he was beaten, he said.

The players drove to a park located off campus and carried the freshman onto a baseball diamond, according to his account. The players threw dirt on the teen, took his cell phone and left him half-naked on the field, he said.

The freshman, who had just transferred to the college, did not know where he was or how to get back to campus. The temperature that night was about 45 degrees, according to National Weather Service records.

About 10 minutes later, a second player was dumped on the field, he told investigators. The two were eventually driven back to campus by classmates who came looking for the second player.

The freshman returned to his dorm room, called his mother and then drove himself to the hospital. He suffered muscle tears in both shoulders, in addition to various bruises and scratches, the records said.

Know what the college did to punish these young men, ccording to the Chicago Tribune? Gave them 50 hours of community service and ordered them to “write an eight-page essay reflecting on their behavior.”

Read the whole thing. If the Tribune‘s sources are correct, Wheaton College — freaking Wheaton! — let its football players skate, basically, after torturing at least one, probably two, freshmen as part of a hazing ritual.

Some administrator needs to lose his or her job over this. And what about the football coach? He let these scumbags stay on his team.

I know how this works, and why it happens, in all kinds of organizations. Religious ones are the worst, though. I saw the US Catholic Church preside over the widespread rape and molestation of children, and in so doing destroy its own credibility, rather than hold evildoers accountable. Baylor University, another Christian school, covered up for some of its own football players raping and assaulting others in recent years. I will never, ever understand fully why religious institutions let this happen. I hope the requisite governing bodies, as well as faculty, parents and alumni, let the hammer down on Wheaton.

Here in Baton Rouge, the LSU chapter of a fraternity has been closed by its national office after a freshman died there last week, apparently of alcohol poisoning. Authorities are still investigating, and have yet to determine if the kid ingested all that booze voluntarily, or had been subjected to hazing.

Here’s what I don’t get: 1) why haze? and 2) why would anybody want to be part of an organization that hazes them?

UPDATE: A friend I trust who is close to Wheaton strongly cautions against jumping to conclusions. He is hearing that the facts do not match what has been reported so far. Good advice. Remember Haven Monahan.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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