WARREN, Mich. – Prosecutors blasted Warren De La Salle for the way school administration handled the Warren Police Department’s investigation into an alleged football hazing investigation.
The St. Clair County Prosecutor’s Office was asked to handle the investigation due to a conflict of interest within the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office. Warren police investigated the case and recommended charges against three students -- an 18-year-old and two 16-year-olds.
The investigation centered around an Oct. 19 team dinner. Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer said an investigation revealed the students allegedly held a victim to the floor of the locker room and used a broom during the incident. Many of the younger players knew the hazing was coming, so they ran from their teammates, officials said.
The team forfeited its Michigan high school playoff game due to the allegations.
On Tuesday, St. Clair County Prosecutor Michael D. Wendling announced no charges would be filed in the case. He said that isn’t because crimes weren’t committed, though.
Wendling said key evidence was destroyed, information was withheld and key witnesses were told not to speak to investigators.
Here is the full paragraph from Wendling on how the school affected the investigation:
“Based upon all the information made available for our review, it is the opinion of our office that criminal charges cannot be substantiated at this time. While we are confident that a criminal incident did occur, we do not have admissible evidence to move forward with prosecution. The lack of evidence is the result of multiple circumstances that are beyond our control. By the time the Warren Police Department had been contacted in relation to this incident, important evidence had already been lost or destroyed. The Warren Police Department was not contacted until after an internal investigation had been completed by the school. Documents and and reports created during the school’s own independent investigation have been withheld by administrative staff at advice of legal counsel. Further, the majority of the coaching staff has declined to speak with police upon the advice of counsel. While all three suspects share one attorney, multiple attorneys represent the school and staff. Moreover, staff meetings and board meetings where the incident and discipline of these students/suspects was addressed were not open to the general public and no minutes or discussion notes have been provided. The non-cooperation from De La Salle staff is especially upsetting considering that they are the people who have an obligation to protect these children and are mandated to report any misconduct.”
Prosecutors also said victims were pressured not to held the case move forward.
Here’s the section about the victims, from Wendling:
“Additionally, the victims and their families have not provided sufficient information upon which to file charges. There have been concerns of pressure by parents, students, staff members and others regarding cooperation as it relates to this criminal investigation. The investigation has received intense media attention. Unfortunately, it appears as though some of this outside pressure has affected the students involved. While it is understandable that witnesses and victims were reluctant to come forward, given the nature of these allegations, it is disappointing that information regarding the specifics of the assault have not been provided.”