Macomb prosecutor recuses office from De La Salle hazing case

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Warren — Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith has recused his office Friday from taking on charges against three Warren De La Salle students in an alleged hazing case.

Smith said his office received a warrant request Friday from the Warren Police Department but he recused his office, saying one of its senior prosecutors could be a witness in the Oct. 10 incident.

De La Salle Collegiate High School.

"As previously disclosed to the Warren Police, one of our Senior Assistant Prosecutors is potentially a material witness in this matter, creating a conflict that precludes us from making the necessary charging decisions on this case," Smith said in a statement.

"Therefore, to avoid any appearance of impropriety our office will request that another County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office review this matter as it relates to the actions of the individuals suspended by De La Salle officials."

Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer said Friday the recommendations were submitted to the Macomb County Prosecutor's Office for three football players, ages 18, 16 and 16. At the time of the alleged incident, the 18-year-old was 17, he said.

Dwyer told The Detroit News the three students have been suspended indefinitely.

Officials said the alleged hazing involved sexual threats with a broom. There was no follow-through with penetration, Dwyer said.

He said police investigators attempted to interview all 69 of the high school's football players and six members of the faculty.

Investigators were not allowed to speak to 15 of the players because their parents denied police requests for interviews, the police commissioner said Friday. Four of that group advised police they have attorneys. 

The three male athletes for whom police submitted warrant recommendations Friday did not cooperate in the police investigation, according to authorities.

The warrant request provided to the Macomb County prosecutor said that the alleged victim "Does not wish to further charges and has declined to be interviewed by law enforcement," Smith said.

Dwyer said the investigation is not closed as new information continuously comes forward. He said the students could still be charged even without the victim's impact statement.

"We presented what we had and we are going to continue to investigate if we get additional information on the incident," Dwyer said Friday. "Hazing is a problem we take seriously and we never assume it's one incident. This is definitely not closed."

He said school officials have been cooperative in the investigation after the incident was brought to police's attention on Oct. 31 following the cancellation of the state playoff game.

"(The three males) were very hesitant to give background on what happened, and that's disappointing," he said. "Not quite satisfied with the way the parents reacted in letting us talk to their sons."

Twitter: @SarahRahal_