HAMMOND — A member of the Clark High School boys' soccer team was sexually assaulted by teammates, according to police.
Hammond schools Superintendent Walter Watkins said two Clark students have been suspended in connection with the incident, and others could face suspension. It is not clear if any coaches or administrators will be suspended in connection with the case.
According to a Hammond police report, an officer was dispatched Feb. 5 to the school regarding a sexual assault. Police said Clark High School Principal Robert Wilson told the officer a student had been sexually assaulted by other students in the school.
Watkins said he believes the alleged victim is a freshman.
According to police, the victim and the soccer team met in the coach's office after school. Police said the victim later went to the locker room to change clothes for soccer practice and was soon joined by members of the team. The victim then heard someone yell, "get him," police said, and he was forced to the ground.
Police said someone tried to help the victim but was "outnumbered and overpowered." According to police, eight suspects were involved in the attack, during which the victim reported he was sexually assaulted five times.
The victim told police the suspects then forced him into a shower stall, turned on the water and left the locker room.
Police said the victim reported that he was told several days earlier the soccer team might do something as part of an initiation. The victim also told police he heard it happened to someone else before, that there is a name for the initiation and it happens to students joining the soccer team.
The case has been presented to the juvenile prosecutor’s office and a process has begun to formally charge the suspects, according to a statement from the Juvenile Division of the Lake County prosecutor’s office. The office declined to comment further on the pending case.
In addition to reporting the incident to police, Watkins said school administrators also contacted Child Protective Services, and that his office sent a letter home to parents and guardians of Clark High School students Feb. 10.
"There was a student who was not involved in the incident who told his mother what happened, and she, in turn, contacted the mother of the alleged victim," Watkins said.
"A report was made to the school. We have been working with the Hammond Police Department and Child Protective Services. I sent a letter home to parents letting them know we were investigating an allegation of hazing.
"We have interviewed almost the entire soccer team," Watkins said.
"Our attorney, David Dickson, is handling the case because of the nature of the allegation. Once we involved the police, we turned the investigation over to them."