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Haverhill cancels rest of high school football season after seeing alleged hazing video

Haverhill High School.Lisa Poole for the Boston Globe/file

School administrators in Haverhill canceled the rest of their high school football season Wednesday, after a video emerged allegedly showing members of the football team hazing a teenage boy, according to a statement from the school district.

Administrators said “significant material was uncovered” Wednesday regarding an ongoing investigation into misconduct by “some members” of the team, according to the statement.

“Haverhill Public Schools will not tolerate hazing, harassment, or retaliation in any form,” the school district said in the statement. “Any such misconduct will be responded to swiftly and it will undoubtedly have lasting repercussions for all of those involved.”

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Haverhill police are investigating the incident, the statement said. A Haverhill police dispatcher referred questions on the investigation to the school district.

The video, posted to Boston 25, appears to show three teenage boys — one of them wearing a Haverhill football shirt — dragging another teen, across the floor of a locker room. It goes on to show a fourth teen in underwear twerking into the victim’s face, reported the channel.

“Given the seriousness of the misconduct, the District has decided to end the current football season — canceling all future practices and forfeiting future games,” administrators said.

Administrators said members of the team’s coaching staff have been placed on paid administrative leave for the duration of the investigation.

Haverhill athletic director Tom O’Brien and football coach Tim O’Connor did not immediately return messages seeking comment Wednesday night. Officials with the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, the governing body of high school sports in the state, also did not respond to messages.

The Haverhill School Committee is scheduled to hold its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at 7:30 at City Hall, according to an agenda posted online.

“We’re going abide by the law, abide by our policy, and we’re going make sure this is handled appropriately and the people involved are disciplined accordingly,” school committee member Paul Magliocchetti told WCVB-TV.

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Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini said in a statement shared on Facebook Wednesday night that he was “alarmed, concerned, and frankly disgusted” by the video and that this “can never be allowed to occur again.”

He said the boys involved in the incident “should be immediately permanently removed from the team.”

“I fully support the superintendent’s actions in cancelling the Thanksgiving game, suspending those involved and conducting a full investigation,” he said in the statement. “Parents deserve to know when they send their kids to play high school sports that their children will be safe.”

The team finished 3-7 over the regular season and missed the MIAA Division 1 playoffs. Haverhill’s only remaining scheduled game would have been played at home against Lowell on Thanksgiving Day. Lowell, also 3-7, will win the game by forfeit.

School officials urged parents and students to share any information they may have regarding hazing practices with Principal Kevin Soraghan.

Last spring, several schools across the state were faced with the emergence of hazing incidents on their athletic teams, some resulting in criminal charges against athletes and ties cut with coaches, athletic directors, and top administrators.

Following reports of the misconduct, including alleged racial and homophobic hazing assaults on a Danvers High School hockey player and the beating of a 14-year-old boy on the Woburn Memorial High School football team, Attorney General Maura Healey convened a conference of policymakers to address the abuses.

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Globe correspondent Tyler Foy contributed to this story.


Camilo Fonseca can be reached at camilo.fonseca@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @fonseca_esq. Nick Stoico can be reached at nick.stoico@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickStoico.