Sexual Assault Charges for Utah Teen Who Took Hazing Too Far

A Gunnison, Utah teen was charged with multiple charges of sexual assault after a hazing incident was taken too far.

Sexual assault by team member

Photo by: Mike Dupris

Many youth that join high school sports teams will experience a little bit of hazing. While some incidents are innocently done as a fun way to welcome new members to the team, others cross a line and can result in criminal charges for those responsible. Mid-September, a 15 year old freshmen student at Gunnison High School alerted the high school resource officer to a hazing incident that involved the male juvenile being held down and sexually assaulted by a sophomore following football practice. After the boy came forward to authorities, other victims soon followed suit and the 16 year old sophomore was arrested for six first degree felonies as well as five second degree felonies related to the sexual abuse.

Harmful hazing

While the student charged with sexual abuse obviously crossed the line from innocent hazing to criminal activity, other hazing rituals may also be against the law as well. Utah Code 76-5-107.5 states “A person is guilty of hazing if that person [knowing the activity is for those to be or remain a member of any organization] intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly commits an act or causes another to commit an act that:

(a) i. endangers the mental or physical health or safety of another;

ii. involves any brutality of a physical nature such as whipping, beating, branding, calisthenics, bruising, electric shocking, placing of a harmful substance on the body, or exposure to the elements;

iii. involves consumption of any food, alcoholic product, drug, or other substance or any other physical activity that endangers the mental or physical health and safety of an individual; or

iv. Involves any activity that would subject the individual to extreme mental stress, such as sleep deprivation, extended isolation from social contact, or conduct that subjects another to extreme embarrassment, shame or humiliation”.

Criminal Penalties

Depending on the severity of the hazing and what weapons of illicit materials are used, hazing may be punished ranging from a class B misdemeanor to a second degree felony. Any teens facing charges for their involvement of criminal hazing are encouraged to seek the legal counsel of a reputable juvenile defense attorney.

Hazing in Salt Lake City High Schools

Many high schools in the Salt Lake City area are going to be back in session soon, and with that come common pranks and more serious issues such as hazing.

Hazing common before college

Photo by: Edgar Zuniga Jr.
Photo by: Edgar Zuniga Jr.

Hazing is more known for its place in college fraternities, where students earn the right to be a part of a desired sorority.  Unfortunately, hazing is finding its way among the younger crowd, with hazing rituals starting as early as freshmen year.  According to stophazing.org, around half of all high school students will witness hazing before they graduate as seniors.

Physically and emotionally damaging

While a good majority of new student or senior rituals are harmless, what is defined as hazing can have lasting effects to high school students’ health and well-being.  For this reason, hazing is against the law. Utah code 76-5-107.5 states that “A person is guilty of hazing if that person [for the purpose of initiating another into a group or team] intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly commits an act or causes another to commit an act that:

• endangers the mental or physical health or safety of another;

• involves any brutality of a physical nature such as whipping, beating, branding, calisthenics, bruising, electric shocking, placing of a harmful substance on the body, or exposure to the elements;

• involves consumption of any food, alcoholic product, drug, or other substance or any other physical activity that endangers the mental or physical health and safety of an individual; or

• involves any activity that would subject the individual to extreme mental stress, such as sleep deprivation, extended isolation from social contact, or conduct that subjects another to extreme embarrassment, shame, or humiliation.[…]”

Hazing penalties

Hazing penalties can range from a class B misdemeanor from simple hazing to a 2nd degree felony if a weapon is involved. As Salt Lake City students return to school, they need to refrain from being involved with hazing of any kind and report it to school officials immediately.  Those high school students found guilty of hazing should contact a juvenile defense attorney.

Two Utah High School Students Charged with Disorderly Conduct

Photo: Bill McChesney

Two Wasatch High School students have been charged with disorderly conduct following an incident which was termed “hazing” by at least one person.

Disorderly Conduct–Not Hazing

The students, members of the school’s basketball team, allegedly put their naked bottoms near some team member’s faces while additional team members held them down. Police reported that most of those who had a bottom held near their face weren’t upset, but at least one team member wasn’t thrilled with the situation.

There were four coaches on the bus, which was returning home from an away game, none of whom admitted seeing anything extraordinary. They have reportedly all received reprimands from the school and were asked to be more aware of what goes on with their students.

The Consequences

Disorderly conduct is a class C misdemeanor, unless the person stops when asked in which case it’s an infraction. The young men in this incident have been charged with an infraction. According to reports, hazing wasn’t charged because their behavior didn’t result in extreme humiliation, embarrassment or shame. The two students may end up facing a fine of up to $750.

Your Child Deserves Legal Representation

Even though their alleged behavior wasn’t in good taste, it’s important that the prosecution in this case recognized what their behavior was–and wasn’t. People, whether juveniles or adults, shouldn’t be forced to face criminal charges that exceed the supposed crime or infraction.

If your child is in legal hot water, do him a favor and contact a Utah juvenile defense attorney right away. It’s in your child’s best interest to have proper, experienced legal representation regardless of the charges against him. Make the right choice and call us today.

Suspected Cyberbullying at Utah High School

There are reports of suspected cyberbullying at a Utah high school, this time using the social media network Instagram.

Photo: Geoffrey Fairchild

What’s Going on?

Some Timpview High School girls are the alleged targets of the cyberbullying this time. Before Instagram officials were notified and the list was taken down, it was reported that there were pictures of several female students and offensive comments made about the girls. Local police as well as the school district are making investigations into the alleged cyberbullying.

Utah law prohibits bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, hazing, sexual battery and sexual exposure in the following school-related situations:

• on school property
• at a school related or sponsored event
• on a school bus
• at a school bus stop
• while a school employee or student is traveling to or from the above locations

State law also notes that hazing and cyberbullying are prohibited at any time or any location. There is another law that requires a school to notify a parent if his child threatens to commit suicide or is otherwise involved in cyberbullying, harassment, etc.

An Attorney Can Help

Kids, like adults, are not immune from making mistakes. Youth that are bullied or are bullies both are in need of help; it’s an unfortunate situation for anyone involved that can bring about civil and/or criminal penalties.

If your child is facing legal difficulties due to cyberbullying or any other problem, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced Utah juvenile defense attorney. Having the assistance of an attorney can help your child in multiple ways. Make the right move and call a Utah juvenile defense attorney today.

Utah High School Football Players and Hazing

Two Utah high school football players have been suspended from school following allegations of hazing. It’s possible that at least one other hazing incident occurred at the same school as well, but different kids may have been involved.

Photo: Parker Knight

Why Hazing is Illegal

Hazing is against the law in Utah. Hazing may be simply defined as the process of requiring someone to do strenuous, often humiliating tasks in order to become part of a group. Utah law states that hazing is can include:

• Endangering the mental or physical health or safety of someone else
• Involving brutality such as whipping, beating, branding, calisthenics, bruising, exposure to the elements, etc.
• Requiring someone to eat any food or substance that could harm the individual
• Subjecting a person to activities that cause mental stress, extreme embarrassment, shame or humiliation

Additionally, a defendant in a hazing case cannot use the defense that a person (under 21) consented to participating in the hazing activity.

In adult court, a person charged with hazing can face anywhere from a class B misdemeanor to a second degree felony depending on the circumstances of the incident. Kids are normally adjudicated in juvenile court, but the consequences can be severe even in that court setting.

Kids Deserve Expert Legal Help

Some kids are going to make mistakes—the kind that land them in legal trouble. If your teen has been charged with any offense, talk to a Utah juvenile defense attorney as soon as possible.

Errors in judgment don’t mean that a kid deserves to have the book thrown at him. Let an attorney help your child get the best possible outcome in his juvenile case. Call an experienced Utah juvenile defense attorney today.