PHOENIX – No additional charges will be filed in an investigation of allegations that football players at a metro Phoenix high school physically and sexually abused younger teammates.
Three students were charged with crimes last year stemming from the abuse scandal at Hamilton High School in the suburb of Chandler.
On Wednesday, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said that he can’t file additional charges because many victims, witnesses or their parents wouldn’t cooperate with investigators.
“Parents just refused to give their children permission to talk to law enforcement,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.
Montgomery also says there’s not enough evidence to bring charges against school officials accused of failing to alert authorities about the alleged abuses.
Authorities say at least four players were assaulted and that one player had his pants and underwear forced down and was spanked on the rear end.
Montgomery gives decision not to file charges against 3 adults involved in Hamilton HS investigation,not enough evidence/witness cooperation pic.twitter.com/3F0hfDTXkA
— MaricopaCounty Atty. (@marcoattorney) February 14, 2018
Of the three people arrested, Nathaniel Thomas was charged as an adult, and his attorney is seeking a plea deal. Montgomery said, however, it was unlikely Thomas would testify against the administrators, as part of a deal.
“We have no information to suggest that that could happen.” said Montgomery.
As the Statute of Limitations in this case is seven years, once a victim or witness turns 18, they can decide, on their own, to come to authorities with evidence, and reopen the case, even as an earlier plea for people to come forward fell on deaf ears.
“Well, it sends a terrible message that you’re going to place the integrity of a youth sports program above the safety of the participants,” said Montgomery. “It’s a misguided notion of loyalty.”
School District to implement changes
Meanwhile, Chandler Unified School District has made some changes, and added newly required training to protect kids from hazing in the future, including remodeled locker rooms, increased supervision, an anti-hazing training video, more training on inappropriate behavior, training on mandatory reporting, and an online survey.
As for the school’s principal and athletic director, school district officials say they are working at the district office, and their future with the high school has not been decided.
The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.