Two sets of parents of Florida high school baseball players have filed suit against their local school board, charging that it failed to intervene when their sons were hazed.
As reported by the Tampa Bay Times and ABC News, among other outlets, the parents of two East Lake High School (Tarpon Springs, Fla.) baseball players have charged that school administrators failed to intervene when their sons were hazed, including after their refusal to participate in an “Oreo run,” where they were expected to race other players with an Oreo cookie between their butt cheeks, then eat the cookie if they fell short.
The two players in question, 18-year-old Jay King and a 17-year-old identified only by the initials JN, refused to participate in the Oreo run, but were then chased through wooded areas and subjected to teammates who were “yelling verbal insults at him and trying to grab him,” per the players’ lawsuit.
In fact, according to ABC News, the threats related to the Oreo Run only stopped after King threatened to call 911.
The players’ lawsuit also claims that the hazing attempts and verbal harassment came in the view of the team’s coaches, and that the alleged victims “continue to suffer from anxiety, worry, insomnia, depression, headaches, and loss of self-esteem.”
In fact, the verbal attacks also included hate-fueled rhetoric, as laid out in more detail by the Times:
King and Norwood’s teammates bullied and intimidated the players, according to the complaint, calling them the n-word throughout the season. “Plaintiffs even heard an assistant coach use this same offensive language,” the lawsuit said.
Both players referred to in the lawsuit have since transferred to other schools. The Tarpon Springs school district has reportedly hired the law firm Johns Eastern to investigate the players’ allegations, with both players interviewed by phone. The district eventually determined that both the firm’s investigation and the internal one launched by the school itself found no wrongdoing on the part of the staff.
That provided no comfort to Shannon Norwood, the mother of one of the alleged victims, as she told ABC News.
“You didn’t protect my child,” she said. “You allowed this behavior to continue.”