A New York City high school reportedly has suspended football games and practices over hazing allegations that are said to have taken place during a football camp last month.
WNYW reports that one volunteer coach has been suspended and three players have been kicked off the program after the alleged incident at the camp for Susan Wagner High School's football team.
The Staten Island Advance initially reported about the alleged incident on Aug. 29. A mother of a junior varsity player told the newspaper her son was injured during a non-football activity at the camp, which was held at Camp Pontiac in Copake, N.Y., about 115 miles north of New York City. The mother said her son told her about the incident upon returning home from the five-day camp and believed that her son may not be the only player involved.
The high school decided to suspend all junior varsity and varsity football practices and games on Tuesday as the school investigated the reports. Susan Wagner High School Principal Gary M. Giordano confirmed in letters to parents that the incident involved both varsity and junior varsity students, and urged parents "who feel that their child was the victim of a crime while away at camp last week, should report the incident to the Columbia County Sheriff,” the Advance reported.
Another parent, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the newspaper his son came home from the camp with permanent marker drawings on his legs. When he was questioned about it, the father said his son described hazing and abuse that is part of a ritual passed down from older players to younger players.
"They had a BB gun up there that they were attacking the kids and shooting at kids with. A lot of kids woke up with penises drawn on their faces, neck, head, arms, legs," the parent told the paper. "That's outrageous, and with [permanent] magic markers. These kids were scrubbing the life out of their skin."
The parent also said the older players would attack younger ones in the shower and hit them with socks filled with powder. The parent claims some varsity players required sophomores to haze freshman players.
One father of a junior varsity player spoke to WABC Tuesday night and produced text messages among the players that read, “"Everyone delete the chats," "Don't let this get out" and "Cuz no one snitched last year and worst (sic) ... happened to us."
The anonymous parent also claimed head coach Al Paturzo is also at fault for the way he handled the allegations.
"My son came in harm's way, and when it was brought to the coach's attention, they took it like people were lying," the parent said.
Another player told the Advance on Wednesday that he doesn’t believe any of it.
“I don’t believe any of it,” the varsity senior said. “I feel like they made some false allegations, possibly. We never had a problem with hazing.”
The Office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation is investigating the allegations, according to Fox 5 NY. The office didn’t comment on the probe because it’s an open investigation.
A similar scandal rocked the Sayreville High School football program in New Jersey last year. In that case, the season was canceled days before seven players were accused of hazing and sexually assaulting four teammates inside the locker room.
However, none of the coaches from Sayreville team have faced charges, and the school replaced former head coach George Najjar with Chris Beagan over the winter.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.