Watch CBS News

Police Investigate Assault Allegation At Catholic High School

Updated 04/29/15 - 4:43 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Chicago police were investigating after a baseball player at a Catholic high school on the Far South Side allegedly was assaulted by several teammates last month, and 12 students have been suspended in connection with the incident.

A source said the assault occurred in the locker room at St. Francis de Sales High School, at 10155 S. Ewing Av.

A dozen varsity baseball players at the school were suspended this week. A letter to parents said the players were accused of bullying, or failing to report bullying, but Chicago police said they were notified of an assault at the school.

Chicago police said an 18-year-old allegedly was attacked by five other males on March 23, at approximately 3 p.m., but the parents of the victim and the school did not report the attack to police until Tuesday. Area South Detectives were investigating, but no one was in custody as of Wednesday afternoon.

Parents said nothing criminal happened in the locker room, and players said they were just goofing off. Several students who were suspended were told, although they were not directly involved in the incident, they were bystanders who failed to notify an adult or school staff member of what happened.

The suspensions were handed down Tuesday. Students face suspensions between two days and one week.

A letter sent to at least one parent said the student was suspended for two days for: "Knowledge of and presence at an event in the locker room after baseball where a student was bullied; Being a bystander; Failure to report incident to an adult or staff member. This is a part of our 'Zero-tolerance' policy on bullying."


The principal would only say he planned to meet with each student's parents. Administrators said they plan to meet with the superintendent of the Chicago Archdiocese on Wednesday to reassess the suspensions.

According to a letter the school sent to one parent, his child was in the locker room when a student was bullied. He was a bystander, but failed to report the incident to a staff member at school, which is a violation of the school's zero-tolerance policy on bullying.

Edgar Meza, a junior who was suspended two days for not reporting the incident, said what happened was typical horseplay among teammates.

"It was just a joke. It was simply a joke. We're teammates. Why would we really hurt each other?" He said. "We make sure that we honestly don't hurt people. We're not bullies. We don't intend to, because we're teammates. Why would we hurt our own teammates?"

"It's what we normally do in the locker room, just messing around, getting ready for the next game, tell ourselves to get ready for the next practice and all that stuff. So, I'm angry because they suspended me for two days simply for being in the locker room, at the wrong place, the wrong time, when I was grabbing my things, getting ready to get out," he added.

Asked about the alleged victim, Mesa said, "We don't really talk to him. We wouldn't want to get the situation any worse than it already is."

Nehemiah Barker, the father or another junior who was suspended five days, said the kids were railroaded by school officials.

"It's wrong. The process was totally wrong. There's no investigation done to make this determination. You have one student that made a claim, and then now you have all these students suspended," Barker said. "Basically what they are doing, is they are taking a definition of bullying, and using bullying and zero tolerance, and putting it on a group of kids for something that never happened."

Some of the suspended students showed up to school on Wednesday, and were not turned away.

"I told them my son is going to stay in class all day, and he's going to be in this school, and he's not going to be suspended," said Gerald Stewart, whose son was suspended for not reporting the incident.

Barker said he does not believe an assault took place.

"I was told by a reliable source that that did not happen," he said.

The Archdiocese of Chicago released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying, "The safety and well-being of students at St. Francis De Sales High School in Chicago is a top priority. Yesterday, April 28, after school administrators completed an investigation of a reported bullying incident, consequences were imposed on all students involved.

Students at St. Francis De Sales High School are educated in a community of faith committed to academic excellence. Ongoing discussions around bullying and the importance of showing care and concern towards everyone will continue to happen at the school in order to create an environment where students feel safe and succeed."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.