Hamilton hazing case ends in probation The Chandler Arizonan

Hamilton hazing case ends in probation

Hamilton hazing case ends in probation
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ARIZONAN NEWS STAFF

A former Hamilton High School football player has pleaded guilty to charges related to a hazing scandal that rocked the Chandler Unified School District three years ago.

Nathaniel Thomas, 19, was the only student to be charged as an adult in 2017 after a lengthy investigation into rumors of hazing rituals taking place inside Hamilton’s locker room.

He was scheduled to go trial later this year and was facing several years in prison if found guilty of sexual assault, kidnapping, and child molestation.

But the defendant pleaded guilty on Feb. 28 to a reduced charge of aggravated assault and was sentenced to six months of probation.

Thomas agreed to pay $5,000 in restitution and to not make contact with any of his victims.

His conviction brings an end to an ongoing scandal that brought to light troubling behavior, which some claim, was ignored by Hamilton’s staff.

The Chandler Police Department recommended criminal charges against Hamilton’s former principal, athletic director and football coach for failing to report the hazing.

But all three evaded prosecution after the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office declined to file charges due to a lack of admissible evidence.

The coach later resigned and the other two staff members were reassigned to new positions within the district.

Police reports detailed disturbing locker room incidents involving players holding younger teammates down and sexually violating them.

Players told investigators the hazing was common knowledge among everyone associated with the football team.

The assailants allegedly called themselves the “The Tune Squad” and would sometimes document their hazing through Snapchat videos, police reports show.

Thomas allegedly recorded videos on his phone of physical fights taking place in the locker room.

In previous interviews with the press, Thomas has disputed how these hazing incidents were portrayed by law enforcement – calling the activity nothing more than “horseplay” and not sexual in nature.

Aside from Thomas, two other Hamilton players were charged as juveniles and quickly pleaded their cases out.

Five unnamed Hamilton students filed a lawsuit against the school district shortly after Thomas’s arrest and accused administrators of negligently allowing the hazing to happen.

Attorneys for the school district claim Hamilton administrators didn’t know about the hazing until early 2017. When they did find out, the district claims Hamilton responded by immediately assigning security guards to preside over the locker room.

Chandler Unified settled the lawsuit for an undisclosed amount last year.

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