Seven teenagers face criminal charges in connection with a hazing investigation in Woburn, Massachusetts.
All of those charged are students at Woburn Memorial High School.
Kevin Couceles says cellphone video shared on social media shows his then 14-year-old son was assaulted in the locker room after a football game last September.
Several students, including football players in uniform, are seen pouring water at him and throwing water bottles at him. Couceles says a student pulled down his son’s pants and groped him.
Five minors were charged with assault and battery, one of them also being charged with indecent assault and battery. According to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, two additional minors have been charged with assault and battery in a subsequent incident. All seven await their appearance.
“It took too long for the prosecutor to formulate these charges,” Couceles said. “The charges should have been made within a month or two of the incident. It shows that clearly on the video.”
He says it’s a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough.
“There should be a lot more expense. A lot more responsibility for the staff, the coaches, the administration,” he said.
Questions to Woburn Public Schools regarding disciplinary action against the students involved or the staff supervising them went unanswered.
“Woburn Public Schools takes this matter seriously and treats it with the utmost sincerity and seriousness,” Superintendent Matthew Crowley wrote in a statement to NBC10 Boston.
Crowley went on to say that the district has hired a law firm “to conduct a thorough investigation into Title IX,” which is ongoing.
A Woburn family is seeking charges against teenagers accused of assaulting their son in a high school locker room last fall.
“In addition, extensive administrative review and policy analysis is being conducted by a second outside agency, by a company headed by former Massachusetts Public Safety Secretary Daniel Bennett, former Kerry State Police Col. Gilpin and attorney John Benzan,” Crowley added. “We are committed to being open about the results of these investigations and we are committed to implementing their findings and recommendations to the extent we are permitted to do so by law.”
Crowley said Woburn Public Schools could not provide more information during investigations.
In March, Woburn Memorial High School Principal Jessica Callahan announced she would be leaving her post to pursue another opportunity in July.
In a letter to the community distributed in February, Crowley said the school district consulted with the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association and a consultant from the Anti-Hazing Collaborative was working with all of their winter sports coaches.
Going forward, Crowley said, all district coaches will be required to undergo extensive additional training.
“One of the main goals is to make sure coaches understand the need and importance of safety and understanding and working with teens,” MIAA communications director Tara Bennett said of the interview. of the organization’s coaching certification program.
The training covers a variety of topics, including how to respond to reports of abuse, harassment or other issues.
“People who work in schools, everyone is a mandated reporter, and so when people receive information that might endanger a student or student athlete, they should report it,” Bennett said.
Several Woburn coaches have initiated and completed the certification program, which Bennett says requires four to six hours of work over a two-day period, additional work with the National Federation of State High School Associations and a test of end state.
A list of certified coaches posted on the MIAA website did not include Woburn head football coach Jack Belcher.
Couceles said he and his wife, Jeanny, decided to pull their son out of school for his safety in December.
“Every mother just wants her child to be safe when she’s not around. It’s really hard to figure it all out, to understand… Mostly, you go to work every day, your child goes to school, you want him to be safe.” hands,” said Jeanny Coucelos. “I just want justice for my son.”