Juneau School District hires lawyer to investigate hazing

JUNEAU (AP) — The Juneau School District has hired an Anchorage attorney to help investigate alleged hazing involving high school athletes and a wooden paddle.

Schools Superintendent Mark Miller announced Tuesday that attorney John Sedor is coming on board for the investigation, the Juneau Empire reported.

Parents have complained that their high school-age children who are athletes were kidnapped and beaten with paddles by upperclassman on May 31.

The district has been investigating the incident since June. The police department also looked into the matter, but ended its criminal investigation without any arrests or charges.

Miller said the district is looking into violations of board policy and state statutes, unlike police, who look at possible violations of the penal code.

Sedor will be speaking with students and staff, Miller said at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.

Miller said Sedor already has been talking to adults with direct knowledge of the incident and will soon start interviewing students.

“We can’t rely on what we read in the news as what we take action on,” he said. “We have to verify all those facts.”

Police ended their investigation after no witnesses were willing to step forward and say they were willing to testify.

At the time, police chief Bryce Johnson said police know who did the paddling and who got paddled. He said none of those who were paddled were willing to testify for various reasons, including fear of retaliation, being ostracized by their teammates and not wishing to rat out friends. Another reason may be that athletes feel this is a rite of passage.

Johnson said the investigation showed the culprits came from all three high schools in Juneau, not just one has some parents previously believed.

According to Johnson, this hazing has been going on for at least a decade, maybe longer. He said there’s a lengthy culture and tradition of the activity, a cycle where students who are paddled are the ones doing it four years later.

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