3 teens charged in Hamilton HS football hazing investigation

3 teens charged in HS football hazing case.

This story was originally published March 30, 2017.

CHANDLER, Ariz. - Three teenagers have been charged with serious crimes in connection with a hazing investigation at Hamilton High School.

A 17-year-old is being charged as an adult with sex assault, kidnapping and aggravated assault, according to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.

Two 16-year-olds have been charged in juvenile court with kidnapping, aggravated assault and assault, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office said. Prosecutors in the case have asked the court to consider transferring the teens to the adult system.

Investigators are looking for more information involving a 15-year-old suspect.

Investigators believe the hazing took place on Hamilton school grounds between January 2015 and January 2017.

Police are continuing to investigate and are looking into the possibility of more victims.

12 News tried to reach Hamilton High School's head football coach, Steve Belles, at his home in Gilbert Thursday after the charges were announced, but no one answered the door.

"You feel absolutely for the victims," said Adam Berry, a sports psychologist with Mindset Sports Psychology.

He said other students may have taken part in the alleged hazing to be accepted. 

Most school districts have anti-hazing policies. The Chandler Unified School District has an anti-hazing policy and tells 12 News it's "providing continuing education and training to students."

Administrators also say it distributes information focused on violence, harassment and bullying in a handbook students got at the beginning of the school year.

The Arizona Interscholastic Association's director, Harold Slemmer, said he trusts districts will enforce the state law prohibiting hazing.

The AIA doesn't enforce its own policy or require training for coaches because it's so well understood.

"It's not something that if I had a meeting and I asked everybody what they know about hazing and they don't know. Clearly it's not part of our culture, not part of our programs," Slemmer said. 

But it does happen.

"Occasionally, obviously, yes," he said.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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