Plano High hazing case slowly moving through courts
By Steve Lord firstname.lastname@example.org February 5, 2014 11:06AM
Plano High School is involved in a hazing lawsuit. | Photo by Steve Lord
Updated: March 7, 2014 1:33PM
It has been almost a year since the alleged hazing incident took place at Plano High School.
It was Feb. 11, 2013, when members of the Plano basketball team allegedly held down another member in the locker room, who was then penetrated by another player’s fingers.
It resulted in a seven-month investigation that ended in charges of criminal sexual assault, aggravated battery and unlawful restraint against five offenders under the age of 17 at the time.
During the investigation of that February situation, investigators discovered other incidents that happened in August 2012. Those were involving members of the high school football team.
Plano Police Chief Steve Eaves said the school reported the incident to police in February “almost simultaneously” as a parent of the victim was reporting it to police. That is what opened the investigation by Plano police.
At the time, even after the five arrests, officials kept the investigation open in case other victims came forward. Eaves said this week the investigation is “pretty much closed now.”
“We did follow up more leads, but they pretty much fizzled out,” he said.
Kendall County State’s Attorney Eric Weis agreed the investigation is “wrapped up.”
“Obviously, if a victim comes forward, we would open it back up,” he said.
Meanwhile, the criminal cases against the five offenders are in the discovery phase, meaning attorneys on both sides are gathering evidence and building their cases.
In a separate legal matter, a civil lawsuit filed by the victim’s mother also is in discovery. She filed the lawsuit in March against the school district, saying the school, and one coach in particular, either knew or should have known about the previous incidents.
The lawsuit said the school district was “guilty of willful and wanton misconduct” in allowing students “with a history of sexually assaulting and battering students of Plano High School” to be at the school, including in the locker room.
It says the district failed to remove those students from the school, and “failed to adequately warn” the victim of the presence of those students at the school.
The school district in May filed a response to that first part of the lawsuit, saying there is no evidence that anyone knew about any incidents before February. The response says employees, coaches and teachers “were not on notice” and “did not know” about any previous behavior from the students involved.
The mother amended the lawsuit in August to include as a defendant the student who did the penetrating and his parents as part of the lawsuit. She also claims in the suit that the offender’s parents should have been able to restrain their son from his behavior.
In December, the parents filed a motion to be taken out of the lawsuit, but withdrew that motion about three weeks ago, with the approval of Kendall County Judge Robert Pilmer. The motion was withdrawn “without prejudice,” meaning it can be reinstated.
There is a hearing on the civil case Feb. 21 to see how the discovery is going.