The Haverhill High School football season ended abruptly today and coaching staff were placed on paid leave after multiple videos surfaced, allegedly depicting a sexual assault and hazing incident involving members of the team.
Sources said there are multiple videos, at least a week old, but it isn’t yet clear whether there was more than one incident. Haverhill School Superintendent Margaret Marotta issued a statement Wednesday afternoon, saying a referral was made to the police department.
“Given the seriousness of the misconduct, the district has decided to end the current football season—cancelling all future practices and forfeiting future games,” Marotta said, adding, “Out of an abundance of caution, members of the coaching staff have been placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation.”
The Hillies were scheduled to play their traditional rival, Lowell Red Raiders, on Thanksgiving.
Mayor James J. Fiorentini, who serves as chairman of the School Committee, said he saw one of the videos.
“The players directly involved in this disgusting incident should be immediately removed from the team and never be allowed to play high school football. There is no place on our teams or on any team for disgusting hazing such as this. Parents deserve to know when they send their kids to play high school sports that their children will be safe,” he said in a statement.
Boston 25 television reports it also received a leaked copy of a video. The station said it “appears to show three young men, one wearing a Haverhill football shirt, dragging another individual across a floor and pulling his clothes off. A fourth individual, only wearing underwear shorts, stands over the victim’s head and twerks into the victim’s face for 10 seconds while the others scream and cheer.”
Asked if the television report describing describing the alleged assault are accurate, Haverhill Police Chief Robert P. Pistone said, “What they are reporting in that video is in line with what we’re investigating.”
Marotta said the investigation is ongoing and “significant material was uncovered today which impacts the direction of the investigation and the entire school community.” She said “Haverhill Public Schools will not tolerate hazing, harassment or retaliation in any form. Any such misconduct will be responded to swiftly and it will undoubtedly have lasting repercussions for all of those involved.”
She asked that high school parents discuss this with their students and share any knowledge of hazing with the principal.