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WARREN, Mich. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Police are now investigating allegations that varsity football players at a Catholic high school were sexually assaulted by other football players during recently exposed hazing incidents.
All-boys De La Salle Collegiate High School in Warren, Michigan, site of the allegations, involves claims of sexual assault in which a stick "was used in a sexual manner" as part of a hazing ritual. It is not known how exactly sticks were allegedly used, nor how many players were hazing victims although anonymous sources with knowledge of the situation said the incidents involved a broomstick.
Late Thursday evening, the Warren Police Commissioner reported that De La Salle president John Knight told him that the school could handle the issue internally and that a police investigation into the hazing allegations would not be necessary, according to the Detroit Free Press
Bill Dwyer, the police commissioner, said Knight reassured him that "We've got it under control. We don't need the police involved. ... There's no substance to it" during a phone conversation earlier in the afternoon.
Knight disputes Dwyer's assertion that the school wanted "to freeze out any police investigation," but did admit to making the mistake of first contacting the Macomb prosecutor's office instead of the police.
On Friday morning, Dwyer said DLS administrators were at his office, cooperating with authorities, and that a detective had been briefed on the details of the hazing.
As part of the controlling strategy, Knight released an email statement to the high school's parents and guardians later Thursday afternoon, letting them know that De La Salle intended to work with the police department to see whether or not "criminal conduct" was involved.
BREAKING: A police report is NOW being filed w/ Warren Police, regarding an alleged HAZING incident involving seniors & juniors at Warren De La Salle Collegiate H.S. Multiple sources tell me the school may reprimand their varsity football coach. @wxyzdetroit #4PM #5PM pic.twitter.com/sVFAxehk2Y— Simon Shaykhet WXYZ (@simonshaykhet) November 1, 2019
"We are sorry to report that we have recently discovered a series of hazing incidents conducted by several players on our varsity football team, and many players on the team appear to have been aware of such hazing but failed to report it," Knight said. "It appears that the hazing has deeper roots, and is more pervasive than originally thought."
De La Salle has said the hazing took place in the locker room and involved several players — both those who engaged in it and those who witnessed it but did not tell.
The email, sent on the eve of the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) football playoffs, added, "As a result we have made the difficult but appropriate decision to forfeit Friday's football game which will end the season."
Varsity football coach Mike Giannone, winner of four state titles — two at De La Salle — hasn't responded to requests for comment. Reports that Giannone will be reprimanded have surfaced.
The hazing drama swirled amid a 17-year-old student charged with bringing a knife into a weapon-free De La Salle school zone, a 93-day misdemeanor on Thursday. The student who had been bullied apparently brought the knife for protection. .
I am told this is *unrelated* to the football hazing incident. https://t.co/Rgtth2qXMt— Tony Paul (@TonyPaul1984) October 31, 2019
The school also cancelled classes Friday, Nov. 1 in response to a threat made on Snapchat Thursday by individuals who reportedly do not attend De La Salle. Warren Regina, Detroit Catholic Central and Detroit U-D Jesuit also closed because of comparable threats.
The student bringing a knife to school is not believed to be related to the hazing that caused Warren De La Salle to cancel the end of their football season. It is also not believed to be connected to the threats that closed several Metro Detroit Catholic schools, including De La Salle.
Detroit Allen Archbishop Vigneron dispensed the All Saints Day holy day obligation as the chancery received notice that several schools in his diocese were closed due to a threat of something happening during Mass.
De La Salle's motto — displayed prominently on its website — is "Builders of Boys. Makers of Men."