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Illicit CP - June 2000

Corpun file 5940

The La Crosse Tribune, Wisconsin, 8 June 2000

Hazing alleged at Onalaska High School

By Ed Hoskin
Of the Tribune staff

ONALASKA, Wis. -- Police are investigating hazing allegations at Onalaska High School after some incoming freshmen reported older students had spanked them with paddles.

"There were quite a few kids involved, both as victims and suspects," Chief of Police Randy Williams said. "The police department is taking this matter seriously. Hazing is a felony, and felony charges could come out of this."

At least six wooden paddles of various shapes and sizes were seized by police during traffic stops May 30. Police had been called to the area of Westwood Drive and North Oak Avenue after reports of "truckloads of teen-agers paddling younger teens."

Another victim told police he was one of several students spanked at a friend's home by incoming seniors May 31. The boy said "it was no big deal, that it was tradition," a police report said. The boy told police his buttocks were red but not bruised, and he wouldn't allow police to take photographs.

"We do have some reluctant victims not willing to cooperate," Williams said. Other students are assisting the investigation and anyone else with information is asked to contact police.

Principal Peter Woerpel said he was appalled and angered by the allegations.

"Any type of hazing or initiation is unacceptable," Woerpel said. "If something comes from this, it's possible school sanctions could follow. We'll have our school committee look at that."

Woerpel said past examples of hazing at the school involved shaving cream. "I haven't see this type of hazing," he said. "...It happened in (the) city and at homes and so on. I only know of boys getting paddled."

Not all of the students seemed to mind being spanked, Woerpel said. "Some kids ask for it," he said. "They think it's cool -- like a passage to the high school."

Police will conduct more interviews before a report is sent to the La Crosse County District Attorney's office, Williams said.

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