‘Appalling’ prank: Lake Catholic lacrosse player didn’t know swastika was on leg, investigation shows
MENTOR, Ohio (WOIO) - Officials with the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland and Lake Catholic High School released additional findings from the investigation that launched stemming from reports that a swastika was displayed during a May 16 varsity lacrosse game against Orange.
According to a joint statement, evidence shows that a Lake County Catholic High School lacrosse player attempted to play a prank on three others “without thinking through the possible consequences.”
The player drew the anti-Semitic symbol on his hand with eye black, according to school and diocese officials. He then pressed his hand on the arms of two players and onto the calf of a third.
The two players with the swastika on their arms became aware of the mark and wiped the symbol off before the game.
The player with the swastika on the back of his leg was unaware that the symbol was there, according to officials. He then took to the field and was later made told what was on his leg. It was wiped off during the game with the assistance of his teammates.
Authorities said the player who initially put the symbol on his hand with eye black has cooperated during the investigation and has since expressed sorrow for what has been called “shocking and appalling.”
Despite reports, there are no witnesses that can confirm and no evidence that shows any Lake Catholic players or coaching staff members used anti-Semitic slurs during the game.
According to the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland:
- We were unable to find any evidence that any Lake Catholic player uttered any anti-Semitic slur or remark despite commentary to the contrary.
- Although it was alleged in a secondhand account that a player for Orange reported hearing a Lake Catholic staff member use an anti-Semitic slur during the game, no eyewitness came forward to testify or provide a statement about this allegation and no official, coach, or athlete reported hearing it. Consequently, we were unable to determine whether this occurred.
- After the game had concluded, an adult associated with Lake Catholic who had acted as the team photographer, while not saying anything anti-Semitic, used coarse and profane language in a verbal exchange with individuals associated with Orange High School.
- It was alleged that an unidentified person uttered or shouted an anti-Semitic slur after the game had concluded. The person who reported hearing the slur was unable to identify who might have said the slur. No one else reported hearing the slur, and a video with audio of the game and its aftermath was reviewed but provided no evidence to corroborate the report. Consequently, we are unable to conclude whether this occurred.
As a result of the investigation, the senior who put the mark on his teammates will not be able to receive his diploma until he completes community service.
The entire Lake Catholic lacrosse team will also be required to attend programming at the Maltz Museum of Jewish History.
“The Diocese of Cleveland and Lake Catholic High School condemn anti-Semitism in all forms, and we extend our most sincere apologies to the Orange High School community and to all Jewish and non-Jewish community members alike for the hurt that has resulted from this incident.”
Since the game, the head coach of the Lake Catholic lacrosse team has resigned from his position.
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