Juvenile Charged In Cromwell/Portland High School Football Hazing – Hartford Courant
CROMWELL — A juvenile was charged with breach of peace in a hazing case on the newly formed Cromwell/Portland co-op football team, Cromwell Police said Thursday.
Police said their investigation showed a player struck four others with a belt in the locker room after another player turned off the lights.
Parents reported the incident to Cromwell police. The four players sustained minor injuries, police said Thursday.
Cromwell Superintendent Paula M. Talty said Wednesday that school officials became aware of the incident about a week ago and reported it to police.
Talty said she could not comment on the details of the incident because of the ongoing investigation.
“As a school district, we do not and will not tolerate any harassment to any of our students,” Talty said.
She said head coach Chris Eckert has been placed on administrative leave until police complete their investigation. Talty characterized the leave as part of the investigation rather than a disciplinary action.
This is the first year for the new co-op team — in May, Portland, which did not have a football program, joined Cromwell. Talty said the team was practicing Wednesday afternoon as usual in preparation for its first game Sept. 12.
In an email to parents and staff Tuesday, Portland Superintendent Philip O’Reilly wrote that an allegation of hazing is being investigated by the Cromwell police, Cromwell schools and the state Department of Children and Families.
“The allegations do involve several underclassmen from both Portland and Cromwell who may have been hazing targets. As this investigation is ongoing, we are unable to provide specific information to the public at this time. However, I want to assure you that student safety is always our priority,” O’Reilly wrote.
He said Portland athletics staff has also been investigating and has contacted players’ parents.
Portland First Selectwoman Susan Bransfield said she had received no indication that there were any problems since the two schools joined over the summer to form one football team.
“I’ve been talking to parents and they were really thrilled with the program and said that everything was going well,” Bransfield said. “We never had football before, at least as far as I remember, so we were very happy to be able to offer students this opportunity.”
Bransfield declined to comment on the investigation.
Erik Hesselberg contributed to this story.