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Illinois soccer coach could face jail time over bizarre hazing ritual allegations

Ben Rohrbach
Prep Rally

A coach faces up to a year in jail for allegedly failing to report knowledge of a disturbing hazing ritual that two members of last year's Des Plaines (Ill.) Maine West freshman boys soccer team detailed in Tuesday's criminal trial, according to a Chicago Tribune report.

Two of five alleged victims who have come forward reportedly described to the court a pair of incidents that included sodomy with fingers and sticks on separate training runs. The first alleged victim detailed an "ambush" by varsity players in September 2012, and the second described a similar previous assault by sophomores during a summer camp.

The saga of former Maine West boys soccer coach Michael Divincenzo, who was fired by the school district in December 2012, has unfolded in the Tribune over the past year. He's been charged with misdemeanors for hazing, battery and failing to report abuse.

According to Tuesday's testimony, as detailed in the report, Divincenzo ordered his varsity players to perform 100 pushups and apologize to the victims upon learning of the incident, but did not report the matter to authorities -- a state law for Illinois coaches.

As assistant state's attorney Margaret Ogarek said in her opening statement: "The moment he heard what happened, he should have made that call."

Divincenzo's former players also testified the hazing ritual has been in practice for years, and the coach allegedly threatened to have varsity players insert their thumbs into freshmen's rectums as a motivation tactic during a practice, according to the report.

The trial, which continues this week, is the culmination of hundred of police interviews, which originally resulted in assault charges against six students accused of hazing before the alleged victims and their parents refused to press charges.

“Who’s the adult in the room? It’s Mr. Divincenzo,” Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez told the Tribune in May. “He had a responsibility to take care of these children, and he allowed this to happen, and based on some of the statements he made, encouraged it. These kids were acting and doing something that they, quite frankly, thought was being sanctioned by their coach.”

Meanwhile, the alleged victims and their parents have filed a civil suit against Divincenzo, another soccer coach, Emilio Rodriguez, who was fired in January 2013, as well as Maine West principal Audrey Haugan and Maine Township High School District 207.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Prep Rally on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at preprallyblog@yahoo.com or follow Prep Rally on Twitter!

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