A coach for discus and shot put events said that picture day seemed rowdier than usual and he saw the three students currently under investigation chasing someone around the filed and wrestling him to the ground.
Another assistant coach noted that the "pantsing" took place even where coaches could see it. On one occasion the head coach was called to check out what was happening behind the pile of mats at the pole vault. This was a place team members would hide out to avoid workouts. After this the assistant coach saw the head coach lecturing the students and heard students say, "That happened on the bus."
The members of the girls' track team said the boys' behavior "was really gross" and named specific acts that go beyond hazing. This made the coach think the actions were "really serious." A report was made to the head coach who said he would report it. This assistant coach concluded "The coaches really weren't a part of the investigation or a part of the decision to kick them off the track team."
Another person close to the track team said that some kids were afraid of retaliation and were not coming forward because of this fear.
Basketball assistant coaches also were interviewed. They said that the teams practiced separately. The coach for the Freshman Basketball Team said that no problems were noticed during practice. There was some "pantsing" before the end of the season, but "He put a stop to that behavior." He said that when they were on the bus the varsity got first choice of seats and sat in the back. Then the junior varsity chose to sit in the middle and the freshmen ended up in the front. The freshmen stay behind after the bus arrives to clean up and put away equipment. He did not notice any incidents around the bus after the games.
The JV basketball coach said that he did not tolerate horseplay on the team, but he did not recall any specifics about particular bus rides and did not hear an alleged announcement by one of the suspects when the bus returned that "what happened on the bus, stays on the bus."
There were allegations about incidents which were supposed to have taken place on March 16-17 according to the investigators. This is what they were asking about during the interviews with administrators.
The first interview was with the police officer assigned to Winslow High School. She told the investigators that she had been off the week of March 13-17. She reported that on March 21 Principal John Henling asked her if there was anything criminal about being "de-pantsed." Her answer was "maybe assault."
Then Henling asked what if something were inserted. The officer said, "obviously sexual assault," then she asked if there "is anything I need to know." Henling said no.
On March 22 the officer noted the interviews being conducted by Henling and Athletic Director Don Petranovich. Henling told the officer about the rumors and named the suspects. The officer suggested reporting this to a sergeant with the Winslow Police Department detective office. She says Henling said, "I am not reporting it to you, just want you to know."
Nonetheless, the officer did contact a shift commander, who in turn called Chief of Detectives Lt. John Martin and the Chief of Police, Ray Sands. Sands stated later that no complaints were filed with the WPD which is correct. This was unofficial information. The same day the officer called her superiors, the school suspended the students for five days.
Don Petranovich, the Athletic Director for Winslow High School, reported to the investigators that his first information came March 18 when "Coach Bordner came to his residence and told him he felt some things were happening on the field."
On Tuesday, March 21 Petranovich, Henling and Superintendent Dr. David Black held a routine meeting about scheduling. Petranovich did not mention the hazing issue since he had not yet discussed it with Henling. The triggering incident was a parent call to Petranovich saying a member of the track team was afraid to go to practice. Petranovich immediately called Henling, then he and Henling conducted an investigation. Petranovich told the investigators he informed the track team there was "no tolerance for hazing."
When the investigators asked Petranovich how the alleged victims acted during the school investigation, Petranovich said, "they were like 'no big deal.'"
Petranovich said that on March 22 Dr. Black was informed. At 3:15 p.m. Petranovich met with the track team coaches and notified them of the decision to remove three members from the track team.
John Henling was interviewed April 7. He reported that he was informed March 21 by Petranovich who said he had gotten a call from a parent. "De-pantsing" along with physical invasion were the specific allegations.
When asked, Henling said the supposed victims attitudes were "Its as if it wasn't a big deal." Henling added, "Some of them said, 'Aw, its gross what they're doing.'"
Henling talked to Black at 8 a.m. on March 22. He said that Black's first reaction was "mixed." "At first he was pretty much upset," then settled down. Henling wanted to call the school attorney, Dale Patton. Black told Henling it was not necessary at this time. Henling recalled discussing the fine line between hazing and criminal acts.
The school's investigation was interrupted by Spring Break. There was some information on two additional students, but only three were corroborated. "I wrote them up for Hazing and Malicious Mischief," Henling said. The three were removed from the track team and suspended for five days.
Henling went to Patton April 3, the Monday after Spring Break.
Winslow Superintendent of Schools, Dr. David R. Black, when interviewed said that when he was informed "...it was my belief that it was horseplay. That kind of mischief that kids do."
Black confirmed the testimony of Petranovich and Henling that he did not initially feel the need to call the school attorney.
Among the interviews in this first release are several with bus drivers. They do not report seeing anything unusual or suspicious. The do report coaches being on the trips.
As this article goes to press, more information is being released by the County Attorney's office. Summaries of that information will appear in subsequent issues of the Mail.
The Navajo County Sheriff's Office says that indictments have been made and defendants have been served but there is no list publically available as we go to press.
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