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7 students suspended for hazing

An alleged hazing ritual involving several B.C. high school basketball players is being investigated as a possible sex crime, CTV News has learned.

Seven senior boys from W. J. Mouat Secondary in Abbotsford have already been suspended for the incident, which took place during a road trip to the Mike Dea Classic tournament in Edmonton from Dec. 5 to 7.

The Edmonton Police Service confirmed Thursday it’s investigating the case in cooperation with Abbotsford police, but wouldn’t comment on the nature of the allegations.

Const. Scott Pattison did say the department’s Sex Crimes Unit is involved.

“The alleged incident or incidents happened at the hotel the team was staying at. Other than that the investigation is extremely preliminary,” Pattison said.

Unverified posts on social media allude to very demeaning and possibly criminal behaviour between players.

Dave Stephen of the Abbotsford School District said the W. J. Mouat Hawks players will all be appearing before review boards and could face further punishments.

“The incidents that happened on this trip were certainly in contravention of the district’s code of conduct, and as such we’re taking this extremely seriously,” Stephen said Wednesday.

All the implicated players were initially due to appear after the winter break in January, but reviews for three of them are now being fast-tracked and could take place before the weekend.

Possible punishments include being kicked off the basketball team, extended suspensions, or even expulsions.

The Hawks are currently one of B.C.’s top boys basketball teams, listed fourth in B.C.’s AAAA rankings.

Some students at W. J. Mouat said they believe the alleged hazing is being taken too seriously. Calvin Youttithm, who knows some of the students involved, said the alleged behaviour is unacceptable but common.

“It happens everywhere,” he said. “I’m sure they do regret it but everyone makes mistakes, right? It happens.”

Sports psychologist Saul Miller said there’s nothing wrong with good-natured hazing traditions like making rookies carry equipment.

When things get out of line, like they allegedly did on the Hawks’ trip, the blame may lie with the coaches, he added.

“When you see a group of youngsters, high school kids, imposing something on the rookies, you have to keep an eye on this,” Miller said. “The judgment of 16, 17-year-old kids unfortunately is not necessarily very mature.”

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