Haverhill Public Schools abruptly canceled the remainder of its football season on Wednesday after a video apparently showing hazing came to the attention of school officials.
In an online post, the district announced the cancellation of all future practices and the forfeiture of all future games.
“Haverhill Public Schools is currently investigating misconduct involving certain members of the high school football team. The investigation is ongoing and important things were uncovered today that impact the direction of the investigation and the entire school community,” the district said in a statement.
The decision to halt the football season was due to the “seriousness of the misconduct”.
Members of the technical staff were placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation. The Haverhill Police Department continues to investigate the incident.
Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini wrote on Facebook that he learned of the incident while on vacation. He said he was briefed on the details and shown a video of the alleged hazing. Fiorentini said he fully supports Superintendent Margaret Marotta’s decision to cancel the upcoming Thanksgiving game against Lowell High School.
“I am alarmed, concerned and frankly disgusted by what I have been told and by the video I have been shown,” he said. “The boys involved in this disgusting incident should be removed from the team immediately and permanently. Parents deserve to know when sending their children to play high school sports that their children will be safe.
Fiorentini said he plans to be briefed on further details by phone on Thursday and in person when he returns to the city this weekend.
The leaked video shows alleged members of the football team sexually harassing a young man, Boston 25 News reported. Three people, including one wearing a Haverhill football shirt, drag another person across the ground and strip him of his clothes. A fourth person, wearing only underwear, can be seen standing above the boy on the ground and straddling his face, Boston 25 News reported.
School officials said in their statement that privacy laws prevent them from disclosing more information, including disciplinary action or security measures.
“Haverhill Public Schools will not tolerate hazing, harassment or retaliation in any form. Any such misconduct will be addressed quickly and will undoubtedly have lasting repercussions for everyone involved,” the district said in a statement.
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