CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Cuyahoga County prosecutors have charged an 18-year-old with kidnapping and sexually assaulting several Berea-Midpark High School football players during a hazing incident this past June at Case Western Reserve University.
Three minors have also been implicated in the case.
Tyler Sinclair, a spokesperson for Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley, issued the following statement on Wednesday:
“On June 18, 2019, the Berea Police Department was notified by the Ohio Department of Public Safety Schools Hotline that a possible sexual assault and hazing incident had occurred. The anonymous caller stated the incident occurred when the Berea-Midpark School football team was at a summer football camp held June 9-12 at Case Western Reserve University. Following the anonymous tip, an investigation into the reported incident opened immediately with the Cleveland Police Department because the incident occurred within the city of Cleveland. The investigation was conducted by the Cleveland Police Department’s Sex Crimes Unit with assistance from Berea Police and CWRU Police. The investigation revealed that multiple victims were sexually assaulted in a dormitory as part of a hazing incident amongst team members. Three juveniles and one adult, Jabriel Williams, 18, have been charged for their roles.”
Williams was indicted on the following 7 counts:
• Rape (F1)
• Sexual Battery (F3)
• Kidnapping (F1)
• Unlawful Restraint (M3)
• Hazing (M4)
• Tampering With Evidence (F3)
• Obstructing Justice (F3)
Berea-Midpark City Schools Superintendent Tracy Wheeler sent the following letter to parents and students Wednesday night:
"The Cleveland Police Department has completed most of its investigation into the hazing incident that occurred in June at the Case Western Reserve University Football Camp that was attended by the Berea-Midpark High School Football Team and its coaches. We have been made aware that BMHS student athletes who participated in the hazing incident will be charged by the prosecutor with criminal offenses.
If those students who are charged with criminal offenses are minors, we understand that neither the police nor the courts will reveal their names. Due to privacy laws, the District cannot and will not reveal the names of the BMHS students who are charged criminally. The Board takes students' privacy rights seriously and both federal and state privacy laws prohibit the Board and any of its employees from revealing personally-identifiable-student information, which also would include any information about student discipline.
Please note that the school district is not precluded from disciplining a student and/or denying a student extracurricular/co-curricular privileges because he was charged by a prosecutor with a crime. Appropriate athletic and academic consequences will be handed out by the administration as deemed appropriate. Students who were involved have been and will be given consequences from the school district; we can not discuss those consequences with anyone other than the student and his parents.
During the course of our investigation, we have not found any evidence that any coach had any knowledge of the hazing incident. Our Titan football coaches have never, and will never, condone or tolerate hazing and will continue to build a program that our community can be proud of. The Board of Education and BCSD Administration policy prohibits any form of hazing, and the District takes any allegations of hazing seriously..."
Case Western also released a statement:
“We are horrified by the conduct described in these charges, and devastated for the victims and their families. Upon learning of these allegations earlier this summer, we began a detailed investigation of our policies and practices involving overnight youth camps where our university staff are not providing direct supervision of the individuals staying in our residence halls. As much as we want to welcome organizations that wish to use our campus facilities, our highest priority always must be the safety and well-being of our minor guests. In that context, we are seriously considering suspending all residential camps that do not directly involve our own trained staff.”