5 Wheaton College football players charged in hazing attack on roommate

A suburban Chicago college football player told police five of his teammates duct-taped his hands and feet and attempted to sodomize him with an object before dumping him half-naked in an off-campus park.

The DuPage County State's Attorney's office announced Monday the players from Wheaton College, a Christian school, are charged with aggravated battery, mob action and unlawful restraint.

A judge signed arrest warrants and set $50,000 bonds for the players, who are expected to turn themselves in.

Kyler Kregel, 21, a senior, of Grand Rapids, Michigan surrendered to police Tuesday evening, authorities told The Associated Press. The other players are expected at the Wheaton Police Department sometime this week. State's attorney spokesman Paul Darrah said the most serious charge — aggravated battery — carries a maximum sentence of two to five years in prison.

Terry Ekl, an attorney representing the victim, who has not been identified, told the AP his client was attacked on March 19, 2016, while he was watching basketball on television in his dorm room on campus. Ekl said the teammates tackled the man, bound his hands behind his back with duct tape, put a pillowcase over his head and punched him when he yelled at them to stop.

Ekl said the student, a freshman at the time who is now 20 years old, alleges the five accused men put him in the back seat of a car. With Middle Eastern music playing, he said, they made offensive comments about Muslims and told him that he was being kidnapped by Muslims who wanted to have sex with goats and that he would be their "goat" for the night.

He also said they "were dragging him behind by his arms," and pulled him so hard that he tore the labrum in both shoulders so severely he required at least two operations to repair the damage.

After the attack, the victim drove himself to a hospital where he was treated for his injuries. Ekl said an emergency room nurse called police. He said his client left campus the next day and returned home to Indiana, where he's attending college.

Wheaton College spokeswoman LaTonya Taylor said in an emailed statement to the Chicago Sun-Times the college strives to provide an educational environment that is free of hazing and “practices our values as a Christian community,” and was therefore “deeply troubled” by the accusations.

Taylor added the college, located about 30 miles west of Chicago, took “swift action” to investigate the allegations after the incident was brought to administrators’ attention by other football team members and coaches.

The school also hired an independent, third-party investigator to look into the accusations and took “a range of corrective actions,” Taylor told the newspaper. The school said "disciplinary measures" were taken but declined to elaborate, citing "federal student privacy protections."

Ekl told the AP the players were required to perform community service and write an eight-page essay about the incident but were not initially suspended from the team.

Wheaton Police Chief Deputy Bill Murphy said there were a number of reasons why the investigation took more than a year. He said several interviews had to be conducted, and medical records had to be obtained. Also, he said because the students all reside outside Illinois, the interviews that began before the end of the school year could not conclude until the students returned to class in the fall.

The students being sought on arrest warrants are 22-year-old James Cooksey of Jacksonville, Fla.; 21-year-old Benjamin Pettway of Lookout Mountain, Ga.; 21-year-old Noah Spielman of Columbus, Ohio; and 22-year-old Samuel TeBos of Allendale, Mich.

All are listed on the team roster, and three of them played in the game that the No. 4-ranked Division III team played on Saturday, according to the Chicago Tribune. Spielman is the son of Chris Spielman, an All-American linebacker at Ohio State and All-Pro linebacker in the NFL who spent the bulk of his career with the Detroit Lions.

Wheaton announced late Tuesday all five have been suspended from the team, after being deemed "inactive for practice or competition" by the college administration and the coaching staff.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.