7 students face charges in Warren De La Salle hazing scandal
Warren — Tips and interviews from a follow-up investigation into allegations of hazing at Warren De La Salle Collegiate High School have led to criminal warrants being authorized against seven students, Warren Police Chief William Dwyer confirmed Thursday.
Dwyer said the charges result from witnesses, including two alleged victims, coming forward in recent weeks.
“These are people that came forward after the St. Clair County Prosecutor determined not to write warrants off the original investigation,” said Dwyer. “For whatever reason, they chose not to discuss this with investigators in the beginning but are cooperating now and will testify.”
Dwyer said five of the defendants are 18 and will be charged as adults and two were 16 at the time of the alleged hazing and will be processed as juveniles.
“All will be charged with assault or aggravated assault” next week, he said.
The offenses are misdemeanors punishable by up to 93 days in jail and fines.
The hazing allegations led to the firing of the school’s football coach and the temporary suspension of three students, who have since been reinstated.
St. Clair County Prosecutor Michael Wendling was not immediately available for comment Thursday but issued a press release last month stating the case could not move forward without cooperative witnesses. Like police, Wendling said the investigation had been stalled because school officials had delayed reporting allegations.
Wendling said by the time school officials contacted Warren police, “important evidence had already been lost or destroyed.”
He also said school officials had withheld documents and reports from investigators on “advice of legal counsel.”
Dwyer followed with a second plea to the public for witnesses to come forward and at least two students or their parents contacted police about an alleged October 2019 hazing incident at the All-Boys Catholic school involving varsity football players.
Dwyer noted that under state law, school officials, like other professionals, are mandated to report criminal behavior to police, especially involving the safety and welfare of students.
The matter would normally be reviewed by the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office but it recused itself due to a perceived conflict of interest. A child of one of the assistant prosecutors attends the school.
Wendling’s office was selected by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office to handle the case. Wendling said his investigators had attempted to reinterview several people connected to the incident but, like Warren detectives, had found them to be uncooperative.