October 23, 2014 / 11:09 PM / 3 years ago

Pennsylvania high school's football season canceled over hazing

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A school district in suburban Philadelphia canceled a high school football team's season and suspended its coaching staff after investigating reports of hazing.

Central Bucks School District Superintendent David Weitzel said in a statement to district parents that an investigation turned up multiple “humiliating and inappropriate acts” during pre-season team building exercises at Central Bucks West High School.

In the most serious instance, he said, one rookie player was forced to grab another player's genitals through his clothes while other players watched.

“I want to be clear that these activities did not result in physical harm, but were not harmless,” Weitzel said in the statement.

Cancellation of the program comes on the heels of a hazing incident at Sayreville War Memorial High School in New Jersey in which seven football players were charged with sexually abusing four freshmen.

Officials in Sayreville say they are considering suspending the program in future years.

James Donnelly, who heads the Central Bucks Police Department, said his department was aware of the district's internal investigation but the conduct described to him by school officials failed to reach a level of criminality.

There were, he said, allegations that players participated in waterboarding.

“It consisted of a wet towel being placed over a person's head and walking them into the shower,” Donnelly said. “That doesn't seem to be waterboarding to me. It's the terminology of teenagers.”

The season cancellation comes one day before the scheduled Homecoming football game for Central Bucks West, a powerhouse team that racked up multiple state championships in the 1990's.

Editing by Barbara Goldberg

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