COVENTRY TWP.: A criminal investigation is ongoing at Coventry High School amid allegations that several athletes punched, kicked and in some instances used a broomstick while hazing eight first-year wrestlers.
In all, 11 upperclassman wrestlers have been suspended from the school, and two of those students could be expelled, Coventry Superintendent Russell Chaboudy confirmed Wednesday.
In addition, the wrestling team’s coach has been placed on leave while the investigation proceeds, Chaboudy said.
The investigation could bring criminal charges against the older students, according to law enforcement sources investigating the incident. No charges have been filed, and investigators could not speak publicly about the investigation at this time.
Two of the eight first-year wrestlers, a freshman and a sophomore, were said to have been seriously injured during the hazing, which reportedly took place last Thursday before the team’s final home match of the season against Southeast and Firestone high schools.
None of the injured wrestlers involved, however, missed Friday’s matches or the following road match Saturday.
Summit County sheriff’s deputies and school officials were made aware of the incident by the parents of several athletes Monday. Detectives have been interviewing students and school personnel all week. Those interviews are continuing.
A message seeking comment was left with varsity wrestling coach Keith Shinn, who also is employed by the Akron Police Department.
The attack happened last Thursday, Chaboudy said, when the upper-class wrestlers arrived an hour early and went into the locker room without permission. The coaching staff had not arrived, he said.
Chaboudy said some seniors, juniors and sophomores “lured” freshman wrestlers to the locker room.
“They then pummeled them with their fists and their feet,” Chaboudy said.
Law enforcement sources say a broomstick was used in the attack, but the students were fully clothed.
Chaboudy said he does not believe the attack was part of a hazing tradition among the wrestling team. He said school officials should be credited for acting “swiftly and sternly” once they learned of the attack.
“We hope it’s not a tradition because we certainly do not tolerate hazing or bullying,” he said. “We take it very, very seriously.”
Phil Trexler can be reached at 330-996-3717 or firstname.lastname@example.org.