College football players face felony charges in 2016 hazing incident

Two of the Wheaton football players facing charges are from West Michigan.

CHICAGO - UPDATE: Wheaton College says five football players charged with felonies in connection with an alleged 2016 hazing incident have been suspended from the team.

Spokeswoman LaTonya Taylor said Tuesday the players have been deemed "inactive for practice or competition" by Wheaton administrators and the coaching staff.

Authorities say Kregel, a senior, turned himself in Tuesday evening. The other players are expected at the Wheaton Police Department sometime this week.

ORIGINAL STORY: Five football players at Wheaton College charged with multiple felony counts related to a violent hazing incident last year are expected to turn themselves in to suburban Chicago authorities as soon as Tuesday.

The DuPage County State’s Attorney’s office approved charges, and a judge issued warrants for the arrests of five players on the evangelical school’s Division III football program -- Benjamin Pettway, James Cooksey, Kyler Kregel, Noah Spielman and Samuel TeBos -- on Monday, according to online court records. The bond for each was set at $50,000.

“As of 8 a.m. (CT) this morning, none of the gentlemen accused in this case have turned themselves in to authorities,” DuPage County State’s Attorney’s office spokesperson Paul Darrah told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday.

Each player faces identical charges:

  • Aggravated battery that caused great bodily harm;
  • Aggravated battery in a public space;
  • Unlawful restraint;
  • Mob action with the use of force or violence;
  • Mob action by two or more people with the intent to commit a felony or misdemeanor. 

At least three of the five players (Kregel, Pettway and Spielman) were in the lineup for Wheaton College's 37-14 victory over Carthage last Saturday, with Kregel and Spielman listed as starters in the box score.

Details of the hazing incident on March 19, 2016, were first obtained by The Chicago Tribune.

The five players allegedly put a pillowcase over the head of a then-freshman, who was 19 at the time, and carried him out of the dorms. Restrained with duct tape, The Chicago Tribune reported the players “repeatedly tried to insert an object into his rectum” before leaving him nearly naked in a park in near-freezing temperatures.

The alleged victim, who transferred following the incident, was required to undergo two surgeries as result of the assault, the newspaper reported.

“Wheaton College aspires to provide an educational environment that is not only free of hazing, but practices our values as a Christian community,” the school said in a statement to USA TODAY Sports and other outlets.

“As such, we are deeply troubled by the allegations brought by law enforcement against five members of our football team. When this incident was brought to our attention by other members of the football team and coaching staff in March 2016, the College took swift action to initiate a thorough investigation.

"Our internal investigation into the incident, and our engagement with an independent, third-party investigator retained by the College, resulted in a range of corrective actions. We are unable to share details on these disciplinary measures due to federal student privacy protections.”

The Chicago Tribune reported those “corrective actions” included 50 hours of community service and writing an essay addressing their actions in the alleged incident.

© 2017, USA Today


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