Five students from a high school in Plano, a southwest suburb of Chicago, were released to the custody of their parents late Wednesday after being arrested and charged in a case of ongoing hazing at the school.
The Plano High School students, all boys younger than 17 at the time of the incidents, were charged with criminal sexual assault, aggravated battery and unlawful restraint, Kendall County State’s Attorney Eric Weis said.
Principal Eric Benson said he learned about one incident in early February involving the school's basketball team. Other incidents were revealed when the state's attorney's office got involved, he said.
Weis said there were multiple incidents between August 2012 and February of this year involving three victims. He said the five boys would attack the victims -- members of the same sports teams and not randomly selected -- in the locker room after practice.
He said there could be more incidents and more victims, and that the crimes might have been part of ongoing hazing rituals involving the football and boys basketball teams.
"There are indications incidents could have occurred before August 2012," Weis said. "It’s possible other victims could come forward."
For that reason, Weis and Plano Police Chief Steve Eaves said the investigation remains open.
Weis confirmed the incidents involved multiple students holding another student down. One of the offenders would then penetrate the victim with a finger.
He said only one of the youths charged did the penetrating, while the others held the victims down.
"It doesn’t appear to be a sexually motivated crime," Weis said. "It’s dominance, humiliation … this would be on the extreme end of hazing incidents I have heard of or dealt with."
Nick Ferazzo, a junior at the school, said the attacks were common knowledge among many of the student athletes and the reason he quit participating.
"If it were someone's birthday, they'll be messing around with him and they'll get too far into it," he said. "I didn't like what was going on so I just quit sports."
Benson said the school has taken measures to increase supervision in locker rooms and throughout the school, and did so immediately after an incident was first reported seven months ago.
Each of the boys have separate court dates through the end of October.
Anyone with information about the incidents should call Plano police at 630-552-8275.
Earlier this week a fifth student alleged hazing at Maine West High School in Des Plaines. That scandal has already cost two coaches their jobs.