A group of Wyoming high school wrestlers who reportedly waterboarded a teammate are escaping any charges, per the Casper Star-Tribune.
As reported by the Wyoming capital city newspaper, a group of Kelly Walsh High School (Wyo.) wrestlers who allegedly waterboarded a freshman teammate will not be charged with any crimes because the District Attorney investigating the case determined that the freshman actually consented to the actions.
Here’s how the Star-Tribune reported the latest developments in the case:
(Natrona County District Attorney Michael) Blonigen said the victim, who was a member of the Kelly Walsh wrestling team at the time, told police that when he walked into the locker room after practice he heard some teammates say that they should waterboard him. The victim struggled while at least three wrestlers pinned him down, put a towel over his face and talked about urinating in his mouth. The wrestlers then dribbled water on his face, according to the district attorney.
The victim then pulled off the towel they had placed on his face and, after seeing it was not urine, voluntarily laid down again. He then placed the towel back onto his own face before others poured water onto his face for five seconds, Blonigen said, citing police interviews with both the victim and others involved.
Blonigen said he “really didn’t have any idea” why the victim allegedly acquiesced to the second part of the incident. The district attorney said he didn’t think the incident was pleasant for the victim and that he “certainly didn’t welcome this” but that the victim’s alleged compliance with the incident negated any potential assault charge.
A family member of the alleged victim reportedly had a theory about why the investigation could have come to the conclusion that the teen welcomed the waterboarding, and it would portray an interesting dichotomy and interpretation on the part of Blonigen. If one believes both Blonigen and the family member, the DA is essentially affirming that the phrase, “if you’re going to do this, at least let me be comfortable,” somehow implied consent.
It’s part of a wider interpretation on Blonigen’s part to act as if the hazing incident is old hat in Wyoming and has been blown out of proportion.
“Kids do this, they have done it for years,” Blonigen told the Star-Tribune. “It doesn’t mean it’s right though, and they shouldn’t be doing it. Usually most folks as they get older they figure that out — that you don’t pick on the guy who’s smaller than you. But particularly with athletic teams you do see this stuff and sometimes it gets far more out of hand than this, of course, that’s when we really have problems. But this seemed to fall within that inappropriate form of hazing sort of area, like the school treated it.”