NORTHBRIDGE — As students filed in for the first day of classes at the high school Tuesday, officials were in defensive mode responding to a report that four upperclass football players allegedly pressured a freshman player to sip urine.
Michael P. Gauthier, the principal, reported the hazing incident to police Aug. 21, two days after the alleged incident took place, according to a police report.
After practice Monday, two students who said they are members of the football team confirmed to a reporter that the hazing incident had occurred. “We’re not supposed to talk about that,” one of the players said before getting in a car, but adding that the matter had been dealt with.
A parent also said he had heard about the incident and denounced the act.
Police released the redacted report on Tuesday. None of the students’ names was visible.
Police Chief Walter J. Warchol said in an interview Monday: “There was an incident that came to our attention through the school. We interviewed the victim and parents of the victim, and they chose not to prosecute criminally. We honored their wishes. It was sent to the school administration to take whatever action they deemed appropriate. It’s in the hands of the schools. Talk to the school administration.”
According to the report, Gauthier told Officer Matthew Leonard he had received information that a hazing incident involving four juniors and a freshman allegedly took place at about noon on Aug. 19
The four upperclassmen allegedly gave the freshman player a physical task to perform, which he was unable to complete. As a result, the principal told investigators, the freshman was given a cup of liquid, which had urine in it, and was told to drink it.
The freshman initially said he did not know what was in the cup, and before he drank it an unidentified player took the cup away and the urine was not consumed, Gauthier said, according to the report.
But that version of events was later contradicted in the report. The victim later told police he had taken a sip.
Leonard contacted the boy’s mother, who said she had been made aware of “an incident” by head football coach Ken LaChapelle. The mother told the officer she would speak to her son and would determine whether they wanted to speak with the police, the report said.
At about 4 p.m. on Aug. 21, the alleged victim and his mother went to the station to speak with Detective Sergeant John D. Ouillette and Lieutenant Timothy Labrie.
The investigators obtained a written statement that said on Aug. 19, the boy had lost a “sled pad” race to another freshman in the football locker room at the middle school.
Because the freshman lost the race, the four juniors pressured him to drink from a gallon jug of water with urine in it, the statement said.
Four older students allegedly told a freshman to perform a physical task, then pressured him to drink a beverage containing urine when he could not do it.
The boy said he took a sip from the jug and spat it out. The boy, who said several other freshmen were present and witnessed the incident, did not indicate he was physically forced to drink from the jug, and he said there were no other incidents of such a nature since Aug. 19, the report said.
The freshman told investigators he did not want to pursue the matter criminally, but investigators told him he could press charges later if he wanted to, the report said.
Asked how she would handle parents and football supporters wanting to know if the juniors in question had faced sanctions, Superintendent Nancy Spitulnik said: “I am prohibited by law from giving out any specific information on consequences. I’m sorry. It’s state law.”
Athletic director Al Richards said, “I can’t comment on any of that. They’re minors.”