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State's attorney looking at 'totality' of alleged hazing incidents at Maine West

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 9:58 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — The Cook County state's attorney's office is examining "the totality" of the hazing scandal at Maine West High School, and that includes revisiting the alleged conduct of young athletes who now face misdemeanor charges, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services this week asked prosecutors to look at whether adults at the school failed in their duty to report suspected child abuse. A lawsuit filed on behalf of four athletes from the Des Plaines school claims that some coaches and administrators knew that hazing had occurred on the school's soccer and baseball teams as far back as 2007 but did nothing to stop it.

Des Plaines police have charged six players on this year's varsity soccer team with misdemeanors, and prosecutors last week said there was no evidence to support felony charges. Sally Daly, spokeswoman for State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, said the office would review that part of the investigation, as well as the claims of earlier hazing incidents.

"There have been a lot of different allegations," Daly said. "We're going to look at the totality" of the situation.

The district put two soccer coaches, Michael Divincenzo and Emilio Rodriguez, on paid leave and reassigned them from teaching duties during the investigations, including one being done by school officials.

Divincenzo and Rodriguez could not be reached for comment, but some signs of public support have surfaced in recent days.

A Facebook page apparently created by Maine West alumni, called Support for Divo and Coach Rodriguez, had 769 "likes" as of Tuesday night. One post calls Divincenzo, known as "Divo" by students, an "amazing teacher and friend."

Another posting credits the coaches with creating "an environment of trust and respect ... as well as a safe place where we could share our thoughts and be honest."

Officials in nearby Township High School District 211 dealt with their own hazing scandal last week, forcing the Hoffman Estates boys varsity basketball team to forfeit three games after allegations of a violent initiation came to light. Coach Luke Yanule said he reported the incident as soon as he learned of it.

District spokesman Tom Petersen said there has been no further discipline for students, though they must undergo anti-hazing training. A Hoffman Estates police spokesman said Tuesday that no decision on possible charges had been made.

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