Lawsuit claims Beaufort Co. student sexually assaulted during hazing incident

Lawsuit claims Beaufort Co. student sexually assaulted during hazing incident
(Source: Gray News)

BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - A lawsuit claims that a student at Beaufort High School was sexually assaulted during a hazing ritual by the wrestling team.

The suit was filed against the Beaufort County School District by the mother. The suit claims that the school district did not do enough to protect the student from physical and emotional harm.

In the lawsuit, it states the incident occurred in November of 2018. The student was an athlete and was in the Beaufort High gym after practice. The suit claims that the victim was tackled to the floor, punched, kicked, sexually assaulted and verbally threatened by multiple members of the team.

The plaintiffs are asking for a jury trial and seeking payment for damages, saying the student sustained physical and emotional damage.

The incident report from the Beaufort Police Department states that the victim told police it happened in November or December of 2017. The report includes text messages between the wrestlers.

The report states the victim told Beaufort Police in July of 2018 that the team was hanging out after practice, when an unknown person yelled, "freshman initiation.”

The report goes on to say everyone was trying to wrestle him, practice moves, hitting him and joking around. It says, "at this point he was certain no one was trying to hurt him. Because he and everyone else was laughing and having a good time."

The report continues to say that the victim wound up on his back and was held down by members of the team. When he attempted to get up, he was sexually assaulted.

On May 2, 2018, members of a chat called “Beaufort Wrestlers” were discussing a teacher asking about hazing. They described the alleged assault and said, "that's a game ... we do that to everyone."

Another text said, "if they wanna say we hazed him, we might as well haze him."

In the police interview with the head coach, he stated that since the victim was a freshman on the varsity team he did, “get it rough.” But, even though wrestling is an incredibly physical sport, "get it rough" in no way meant that the victim was assaulted or harmed.

That head wrestling coach mentioned is no longer with the school district.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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