Lawsuit: Teens sexually assaulted in high school team hazing

CHICAGO (AP) — The parents of two teenage boys filed a federal lawsuit Monday alleging their sons were sexually assaulted in a hazing tradition by older players on their suburban Chicago high school football team, and that three adult coaches were aware and even had a nickname for the ritual.

In the lawsuit, the parents contend that on Oct. 17, 2019, the older boys surrounded their sons, pinned them to the ground and assaulted them with a broomstick with such force that it broke.

The lawsuit names the three Plainfield Central High School coaches and the school district.

The parents, who are identified only as Jane and John Doe A and Jane and John Doe B, say no coaches were in the locker room at the time of the alleged assault, but that they knew what was going on. The lawsuit says coaches at the school had, for at least five years, “recognized the term ‘Code Blue’ to refer to the custom, tradition, or practice of senior members of the Plainfield Central Varsity Football Team assaulting Freshmen members of the team in a sexual manner” and that the three coaches knew about it long before the alleged incident.

“The dreadful experience suffered by these two teenage boys is horrifying not only because it was physically and emotionally traumatizing, but also because it was completely preventable,” attorney Antonio M. Romanucci said in a statement. “Coaches were aware of these gruesome hazing traditions and looked the other way allowing it to happen.”

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. It also seeks “an injunction to stop the practice of hazing, train coaches and students on the dangers of hazing and bullying, assign a peer monitor to the school to track its compliance, and to establish a database in District 202 for hazing and bullying complaints,” according to a news release from Romanucci’s office.

Thomas Hernandez, a spokesman for Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202, said the district has received the lawsuit and its attorneys are examining it. But he declined to comment, saying the district does not discuss pending litigation.

The three men identified as the coaches in the lawsuit — Michael Moderhack, Jon Pereiro and Vincent Vasquez — could not be reached for comment. Moderhack, Pereiro and the athletic director did not respond to emails requesting comment, and the school principal did not immediately return a call.

Plainfield is located about 38 miles (60 kilometers) southwest of Chicago.

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