HUNTINGTON — Huntington ISD administration and law enforcement are investigating allegations of hazing and sexual assault involving the high school baseball team.
A student came forward on Jan. 24 with accusations that high school baseball players had sexually abused him as a part of an initiation, according to Superintendent David Flowers and the parent involved.
“The case is being investigated by the District Attorney’s office and law enforcement,” Flowers said. “The school will handle any discipline warranted on our side, and law enforcement is working on the criminal side.”
Flowers said an investigation immediately started, and remedial measures were put in place to ensure the safety of all HISD students, including the removal of the alleged offenders from campus and the suspension of all baseball team activities until the investigation is complete.
“Safety of our students is No. 1,” he said. “I am not putting athletes in locker rooms and on the field until we know what we are dealing with.”
Flowers said law enforcement was contacted on Jan. 25 “once the administration was able to substantiate that conduct constituting a possible criminal offense had occurred.”
One concerned parent came forward and said she reported these allegations to the high school principal, Shane Stover, in October 2018 after she heard her son and other students in Huntington ISD athletics talking about hazing problems.
“They told me that there was hazing and bullying and things like that going on in the locker room, predominantly in the baseball department,” she said. “They didn’t like the way the way things were being run by the new baseball coach. The word they were using is that they feared the new baseball coach.”
She said she approached Stover regarding a case of bullying involving her son and brought up the separate allegations of hazing at that time.
“I said, 'I want you to be aware, that in my house on this particular day, many young men said to me, there is hazing and there is bullying going on in the locker room; you have a problem in your athletic department,'” she said.
“We went on with further conversation, and as we were getting ready to end the conversation, he stopped me and he said to me, ‘What is this you said to me about hazing? I don’t like that word hazing at all. Don’t worry, you just let me handle my athletic department.’ And that was it.”
The parent of the student who went forward said he was irate when he heard other parents talking about the same issues of hazing.
“When I find out that another parent complained about this months ago, and my son has to go through it, I’m irate,” he said. “I want to scream it from the mountain tops.
“The deal for me is — what is the school doing to protect our children? Why is this going on for apparently years?”
Flowers denied the allegation that this has been going on for years. Flowers said he spoke with Stover, who said disciplinary action had been taken in regard to the case of bullying but that he had no recollection or record of allegations made of hazing in the baseball locker room.
“The district has been cooperating fully with their review and will continue to collaborate until the investigation is complete,” Flowers said. “Huntington ISD takes these allegations extremely seriously and considers student safety its first priority in both the academic and extracurricular arena.”
No arrests have been made in the investigation yet.
On Thursday afternoon, a parent noticed and photographed around 11 boys from the HHS baseball team practicing in a field behind the elementary school campus. Flowers said when he heard about the practice, he approached the boys.
"There were no coaches present," Flowers said. "I went over there and told them, 'You're on school property,' and they went off school property to practice.
"It was not a called practice."
After he spoke with the students, they left school property to practice at the youth parks, which school administration cannot control.