Local police officials have downplayed the seriousness of a seemingly frightening hazing case, saying an investigation determined that the entire incident was a practical joke engineered to attract social media attention.
As reported by NJ.com, the Memorial High School (West New York, N.J.) baseball hazing case that captured national headlines here and elsewhere was actually a practical joke blown out of proportion. West New York Police Director Robert Antolos, told NJ.com that everyone involved in the April 4 incident was a willing participant and that, “it’s being blown totally out of proportion.”
Per Antolos’ investigation, the victim in the incident was tied up with duct tape and dragged a grand total of 10 feet in an interaction that was staged to attract social media attention. The police director also noted that he found no evidence of the teen being gagged.
While Antolos has stressed that, “All the kids were in on the practical joke for social media,” his department’s decision not to pursue charges against the teens involved has not synched with the response from West New York’s mayor or superintendent of schools, both of whom have argued that the hazing case is as serious as they come.
“Nothing is a prank that involves the safety of our children,” West New York Mayor Felix Roque told NJ.com. “Someone could get hurt, someone could get killed.”