Principal: School will seek expulsions for hazing
Charges against students, parents possible
GLENVIEW, Illinois (CNN) -- School officials said Monday they have suspended -- and will move to expel -- some students involved in a hazing incident in which other students were injured last week.
"We are moving to expel all of those students who we feel are in violation and [whose] actions warrant expulsion," Glenbrook North High School Principal Michael Riggle said at a news conference.
Earlier, school officials had said they did not have the authority to issue academic suspensions or expulsions because the hazing -- which took place in a public park -- occurred outside the school's jurisdiction.
But Riggle sought the most severe measures possible after the district's counsel advised school officials that the school had broader powers than previously thought.
Riggle announced the suspension of some of the students, caught on videotape assaulting younger students May 4, from both academic and extracurricular activities for 10 days -- the maximum suspension a school administrator in Illinois is authorized to hand down. He said the Board of Education could extend the suspensions.
Citing confidentiality rules, Riggle offered no details on the names or the number of suspended students, saying only that "more than one" were affected.
A student at the school told CNN that 19 girls were marched out of school Monday.
The same day, suspended senior Marnie Holz, 18, filed a lawsuit against the school district in Cook County Circuit Court seeking a temporary restraining order. Holz wants to keep the district from enforcing her 10-day penalty, claiming it would damage her academic standing, bar her from attending Saturday's prom, and possibly prohibit her from graduating with her class.
Authorities in Cook County and Northbrook, where the school is located, said they could file criminal charges against the students as early as Monday in the incident, which sent five junior girls to a hospital, where they were treated and released.
Legal experts said the charges could range from simple battery to aggravated assault. Amateur video shot at the scene indicated possible premeditation because some of the attackers had baseball bats, authorities said.
Additionally, parents who might have bought alcohol for what was supposed to have been a touch football game between the junior and senior girls also could be charged, Northbrook Deputy Police Chief Michael Green said.
Witnesses: Violence increased quickly
Witnesses said the game between the Glenbrook North students never got under way. Instead, what began as light hazing quickly escalated to violence.
Two of the injured said Thursday that they had no idea the seniors would go back on their promise of not physically harming them during their initiation into the senior class.
"I was strangled and choked, and I was kicked in the head repeatedly," said Lauren, a junior. Another junior class member, Marina, said she was "repeatedly kicked and punched," adding, "They kicked my tailbone to the point that it fractured."
A videotape of the incident shows several students huddling on the ground while others throw objects, including large plastic buckets, at them.
Witnesses also reported urine, feces and fish entrails being thrown, and other victims said they had been forced to eat mud.
"Basically it started out as a fun hazing, like our initiation into our senior year," said a junior girl who had been injured. "About 10 minutes into it, everything changed -- buckets were flying ... people were bleeding. Girls were unconscious."
Riggle said the situation might have turned ugly in part because of the presence of alcohol. Videotape shot before the attacks shows a number of girls chugging beer directly from keg taps while being held aloft by teenage boys.
School stopped endorsing games in 1979
"We wish that we could have done more to prevent this reprehensible event. Without question we will pursue additional and alternative methods of prevention," school board President Carol Rogal said Sunday before a closed-door meeting.
Problems had been reported with fund-raising touch football games in 1979, Riggle said, and the school stopped sponsoring them. Students have organized the matches since then.
The principal said that two days before the event, the administration had tried to gain information in hopes of heading it off, but students "were not forthcoming" about what had become "a covert activity."
Details were kept so secret that many participants did not know where and when the game would be held until an hour beforehand. The time and location of the game changes from year to year, though this was the first time that it had such a violent outcome, Riggle said.
The Cook County Sheriff's Department and the county's Forest Preserve District police are investigating the incident, which happened on Forest Preserve property near Northbrook.
Glenbrook North High School is in Northbrook, a suburb north of Chicago. The principal agreed with a reporter's depiction of the school's students as being mainly "upper middle class," adding that about 85 percent of graduates go on to four-year colleges.
-- CNN correspondent Jeff Flock contributed to this report.