The Warren De La Salle Collegiate hazing scandal that abruptly ended the football team’s season on the eve of the playoffs involves claims that sticks were used in a sexual manner to taunt players — allegations that police said they were never privy to.
[‘We are 100 percent cooperating’: De La Salle says there’s no coverup. Read the update here at the Detroit Free Press.]
According to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, who agreed to speak to the Free Press on condition of anonymity, the hazing incidents involve a stick of some type — a broomstick was cited by multiple individuals — that was used in a sexual manner. It is not known how exactly the sticks were allegedly used, nor how many players were hazing victims.
Late Thursday evening, Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer told the Free Press that De La Salle President John Knight told him that a police investigation into football hazing allegations would not be necessary, and that the school would handle the issue internally.
“He said, ‘We’ve got it under control. We don’t need the police involved. … There’s no substance to it’ ” said Dwyer, referring to a phone conversation with the school president at about 1 p.m. Thursday.
On Friday morning, De La Salle adamantly denied telling police it would handle the hazing incidents internally and said police are involved.
De La Salle has publicly disclosed that hazing is far more “pervasive” and “deep rooted” than originally thought.
Dwyer said the DLS president never informed him of any details involving the alleged hazing incidents.
“It was quite disturbing to me that he would not share that information,” said Dwyer, stressing he is now going to “request the school ask us to intervene.”
On Friday morning, Dwyer said DLS administrators were at his office, cooperating with authorities and that a detective had been informed about the hazing, not him.
Dwyer said that he learned of the stick allegations from the Free Press. He said that it’s imperative that the police investigate such claims to see whether any criminal conduct occurred, and that “it’s a school’s responsibility” to report allegations of potential criminal activity to the police.
As of late Thursday, Knight could not be reached for comment.
Earlier in the day, Knight released a news release and sent a letter to school parents announcing that the football team at the all-boy’s Catholic school would forfeit Friday’s playoff game and end its season because of hazing allegations.
“We have recently discovered a series of hazing incidents conducted by several players on our varsity team,” the email states. “And many players on the team appear to have been aware of such hazing but failed to report it.”
The email continued: “As a result, we have made the difficult but appropriate decision to forfeit Friday’s football game which will end the season. … Consistent with the school’s policies, we are reporting the hazing incidents to law enforcement to determine if such hazing involved criminal conduct.”
Dwyer said that the school did contact him, but that police were never asked to intervene or investigate.
According to De La Salle, the hazing took place in the locker room and was more problematic than initially perceived.
“Upon an initial investigation by school administration, it appears that the hazing has deeper roots, and is more pervasive than originally thought,” De La Salle stated in a news release.
De La Salle, whose motto is “Builders of Boys, Makers of Men,” has not disclosed any details about the incidents, stating only: “Behaviors violating our code of conduct or that do not reflect our Christian morality, let alone civility and respect for others, will not be tolerated … disrespectful, demeaning or non-consensual behaviors of any kind are not acceptable.”
The decision to end the football season came as a big blow to the 5-4 Pilots’ varsity football team, which has won three state championships in the last five years, including the last two. The defending Division 2 state champs were scheduled to face Birmingham Groves High School in a pre-district playoff game Friday.
Instead, they had to hang up their football gear for the year.
“We do so with sadness, but also with a heart and mind and spirit determined to do what is right,” Knight stated Thursday. “What is right for our young men. What is right for our community. And what is right according to our Lasallian Catholic values.”