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Hazing a problem before sexual assault at MHS

MISHAWAKA, Ind. -- Students outside Mishawaka High School on Saturday said that the alleged sexual assault was some form of hazing.

“I’m surprised to hear it nowadays. Hazing should not be acceptable anywhere” Julie Sulak said. Three of her five children went to and graduated from the Mishawaka High School, which is right across the street from her house.

“I know it’s happened before and it was addressed and I hadn’t heard anymore about it,” Sulak said she thought the high school put a stop to hazing, but now, it’s happened again.

“This is a very emotion and private type of matter, it’s very destructive and very hurtful to the person it’s happening to,” Sulak said she and her family went through a similar situation years ago.

Sulak said her daughter was hazed when she was a student, a freshman at Mishawaka High School .

“I couldn’t figure out why she would always come home to go to the bathroom during the day,” then Sulak said her daughter told her about the hazing that went on in the girls’ bathroom at school, older girls would sexually assault underclassmen.

“She had gone to her counselor and addressed the issue with her counselor, and she was told it was taken care of,” Sulak said.

The mother claimed Mishawaka High School investigated and dealt with the issue internally, and her daughter never had another problem.  

“But to see that it happening now, in a place where a child is supposed to feel safe, that’s unacceptable," Sulak said.

According to police, the victim, a 14-year-old was sexually assaulted by five other students; it’s described as “a strong-arm sodomy using a blunt object such as a hammer or club.”

Students told ABC-57 News the six boys were on the wrestling team, the sexual assault was a prank, a form of hazing.

The alleged assault took place at Mishawaka High School sometime in early 2010, between January and May but it was not reported until Thursday.

"Boys won’t talk about it, because it hits their masculinity," Saluk said kids don’t speak up because they’re scared.

 “A lot of this is never told, which brings up the fact that, is this an isolated incident or has this been going on before?”

The five suspects include two 15-year-olds, two 16-year-olds and a 17-year-old. The 17-year-old was arrested Friday night, taken to the Juvenile Justice Center for criminal deviate and battery by the Special Victim’s Unit Investigators. His case will be passed on to the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office on Monday, and update the status of the four other suspects.

“They should be charged and charges as adults, this is an adult act. This is not what children should do to children,” Saluk said.

The Wrestling Coach at Mishawaka High School, Darrick Snyder has been suspended with pay until the investigation is complete. Snyder is not listed as a suspect, but people wonder if he knew about this incident or any other hazing that may or may not have gone on among the wrestlers.

Saluk said, “If he knew about this, he’s part of it and being the adult he should also be the one that’s protecting these kids.”

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