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Allegations of locker room misconduct in Danvers ‘disturbing and extremely troubling,’ AG says

Danvers High School.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

The Massachusetts Attorney General’s office is seeking more information about reports of violent homophobic and racist misconduct by members of the 2019-20 Danvers High School hockey team, describing the allegations as “disturbing and extremely troubling.”

The locker room abuse, first reported by the Boston Globe, was concealed by public officials in Danvers for more than a year, though the local leaders had conducted their own investigations into the allegations. Officials for months fought the Globe’s efforts to disclose what happened.

In a statement released Friday, the office of Attorney General Maura Healey said it has reached out to the school district and local police to get more information.

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That statement followed a series of posts on Twitter from Healey earlier in the week, in which she said the hate, bigotry, and trauma that are being seen in some high school sports programs “makes me so sad — and angry.”

Healey did not mention Danvers in the posts, but said school “leaders, athletic coaches, and administrators need to respond swiftly, be transparent, and support victims.”

Healey also said parents need to teach their children “not to hate.”

“Racism, homophobia, and bigotry of any kind have no place in our locker rooms, rinks, or playing fields. If you think sports are about bullying and hazing, you’re losing, and our kids are paying the price,” Healey said.

The alleged misconduct included a 2020 report to police and school leaders from a varsity player that, during the previous season, two teammates restrained him and another hit him in the face with a plastic sex toy. The player told officials he was attacked because he refused to shout a racial slur.

Most of that team’s members also participated in a group chat that included racist, antisemitic, and homophobic words and images, the Globe reported.

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There has been widespread outcry over the allegations. During a School Committee meeting last week, several people demanded action on the issue and called on those responsible for the district’s handling of the allegations to resign.

The five-member panel is scheduled to meet behind closed doors Monday night to consider a motion to place longtime schools Superintendent Lisa Dana on immediate leave over her response to the allegations.

Bob Baldwin, the head of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, said he went “speechless” when he learned of the allegations. Baldwin plans to take a stand to promote civility and the safety of students in school sports, he told the Globe.

The Danvers Teachers Association, which represents more than 300 teachers in the town, has denounced local officials for a lack of transparency, according to a union statement. The teachers called the reported behaviors by some hockey team members “horrific.”

Bob Hohler of the Globe staff contributed to this report.


John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.