Glenbrook North, cops investigate brawl at hazing
5 girls are hurt during `initiation’
The teenage girls pounded each other during a touch football game that degenerated into a muddy brawl–the incident captured on video and photographs that Glenbrook North High School officials were examining Tuesday.
“I guess there was some football involved, but then it was pushing, punching, hitting, putting buckets on heads … showering people with debris and, according to one report, human excrement,” said Northfield Township District 225 Supt. Dave Hales, who oversees the Northbrook high school. “It was hazing. It was deplorable treatment.”
Five teenage girls were injured in Sunday’s melee, which involved up to 100 students. One student broke an ankle, and another needed 10 stitches on her head, officials said. Three girls had bumps and bruises.
Cook County Forest Preserve District police are investigating the incident, which they said could result in criminal charges. The fracas occurred on forest preserve property at Chipilly Woods near Northbrook.
Officials at the high school, which has 2,100 students, emphasized that the so-called powder puff football game occurred off campus and without their knowledge.
Some seniors apparently invited a group of juniors–all female students–to what was described as an annual hazing rite of initiation, charging them $35 to $40 and supplying them with jerseys, officials said.
Four girls who said Tuesday they were victims said they expected some form of mild hazing but accused the seniors of violating unwritten ground rules.
“It was supposed to be a friendly initiation into our senior year,” said the 17-year-old who needed stitches. “I got hit over the head with a bat or a bucket.”
The girl, who initially asked to be paid for telling her story, appeared with three other juniors in front of news cameras at a parking lot across the street from the high school. They declined to provide their names but said they wanted others to know the event had gotten out of control.
The seniors threw pig intestines, fish guts, blood and other foul-smelling trash at them, they said.
The teenagers said it became clear early on that what was happening was wrong.
“There was a point I looked up and I saw people bleeding … and I knew it wasn’t right,” said a 16-year-old who said she was bruised. “When I felt buckets being chucked at me, that’s when I knew that this was more than just hazing, that they were out of control.”
As school officials analyzed tapes and photographs provided by authorities–apparently shot by male students who attended the event–they were trying to identify for possible discipline students involved in extracurricular activities and athletics, district spokeswoman Diane Freeman said.
Those students possibly violated a Code of Conduct signed at the beginning of the school year, Freeman said. The code requires them to display good behavior on and off campus.
“There’s nothing else we can do,” Freeman said. “It’s out of our jurisdiction. The courts and the parents will mete out punishment.”
Alcohol contributed to the violence, said Principal Michael Riggle, who declined to give details.
Hales, said he was baffled why students participated in what appears to be an unofficial tradition. In 1977 the district ended its annual powder puff event during homecoming after students became too rough.
“I think it gets carried over not as a school event, something we would never condone, by some small group of kids who think it’s a rite of passage,” Hales said. “My question [to the students] is, where are your values? Where is your self-esteem? Why would you pay money to go to something where you know you will be treated inappropriately and humiliated and possibly injured?”
The incident took place at an open field near Grant and Lee Roads, said Forest Preserve District Police Chief Richard Waszak. The students did not have a permit to use the space, he said.
Northbrook Police Sgt. Tony Matheny said his department received at least two calls about 1:30 p.m. Sunday that teenagers had gathered at the park and were “making a mess” and fighting.
When police arrived, a group of teenagers ran away before anyone could talk to them, Matheny said.
Later Sunday, police received a call from two students who were at Glenbrook Hospital in Glenview and said they were injured in the fighting, he said.
Many students at the high school were angry at the students who participated in the hazing, Riggle said. Some discussed the incident with counselors, he said.
“It’s not a good way to end the school year,” he said. “They feel very hurt that they are being dragged into this.”
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