A trial is scheduled to begin in July for one of several former Wheaton College football players accused of injuring a teammate during a hazing incident.
James Cooksey, 23, of Jacksonville, Fla., had a July 10 trial date set during a hearing Thursday in DuPage County court, according to court records. He has opted for a bench trial before Judge Brian Telander.
Cooksey is one of five players who were charged in the March 2016 incident in which he and other players are alleged to have struck and then bound a fellow football player during a hazing incident. He is charged with aggravated battery, unlawful restraint and mob action.
One of the former players, Noah Spielman, pleaded guilty in March to a misdemeanor charge of battery in a plea deal with prosecutors. Spielman gave a statement under oath about his participation in the alleged hazing incident that prosecutors said could be used in the trials of the other players. Three other former players, along with Cooksey, have charges pending.
The five former players who were accused were seniors on last season’s team. After charges were filed against them in September, they were declared inactive for practices and games.
At Thursday’s hearing, the judge also said he would release medical records of the player who was targeted in the alleged hazing to the various attorneys representing the players.
During the incident, the victim allegedly suffered two torn labrums, allegedly as a result of being bound with duct tape. The defense attorneys had sought the records to see whether the victim had any pre-existing issues.
The alleged hazing incident took place the night of March 19, 2016. Freshman Charles Nagy, in a civil suit filed against the college, said he was in a dorm room watching TV when several teammates entered and tackled him. They struck him, he said, when he resisted.
The other players then bound him, put a pillowcase over his head and forced him to a pickup truck. They then drove him to a local baseball field where they kicked dirt onto him and then left him there, still bound and partially naked, according to the suit.
Nagy’s injuries required surgery, according to the suit, and he left the college soon after the incident. In his suit, Nagy said Wheaton turned a blind eye to hazing, which Wheaton denies.
Clifford Ward is a freelance reporter.
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