Suspect in Hamilton High School hazing scandal released on bond

Nathaniel Thomas, charged in the Hamilton HS hazing scandal, made bond and was released Thursday.

This story was originally published April 5, 2017.

PHOENIX - The Chandler teenager being charged as an adult in a case surrounding allegations of severe hazing was released Thursday after a judge set bond at $25,000 Wednesday.

He'll remain on house arrest.

Seventeen-year-old Nathaniel Thomas is facing molestation and sexual assault charges for allegations of hazing incidents that accusers claim happened inside the Hamilton High School's football locker room. 

The state argued the bond should be no less than $150,000 stating Thomas' release could hamper the ongoing investigation and claiming the teen had made threats to accusers to keep quiet.

"(Nate) is not a criminal. He’s committed no criminal offenses in this case," said Kenneth Countryman, Thomas' attorney. "This case is really about a severe lack of supervision on behalf of the football coaches out there in Chandler at Hamilton High School and I think that will be proven and it will be clear that Nate did not do any of these things they’re accusing him of doing. None of them."

Thomas' attorney also claimed a “Lord of Flies”-type of mentality exists in the school's football program.

RELATED: Court documents reveal details of hazing 'traditions' at Hamilton HS

12 News reached out to Steve Belles, head coach of the football program, who was recently reassigned indefinitely by the Chandler Unified School District and is working from home.

Belles told 12 News over the phone that he is not able to comment or respond to the attorney’s statement because the investigation into the incidents is still ongoing.

The judge ruled as part of Thomas’ release conditions, that he will have to wear a monitoring system and will be placed on house arrest, only allowed to leave to go to work or school.

Thomas is also not allowed to have any contact with his accusers or to return to the scene of the alleged crimes. The teen’s online activities will also be limited to school purposes only.

Inside the courtroom, it was full capacity, with nearly 200 students showing up in support of Thomas. The majority had to wait outside because there were not enough seats.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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