A Montana teen who was accused of hazing teammates on his freshman football team was handed a truly unique sentence when a judge ordered him to six months of probation … and four mandatory letters of apology to the alleged victims of the hazing incident.
As reported by the Associated Press and a handful of Montana news outlets, an unnamed freshman member of the Kalispell (Mont.) Glacier High football team was sentenced to six months of probation for a disturbing hazing incident in which he covered teammates' mouths so they couldn't call for help, threatened them that their punishment would be more severe if they struggled and proceeded to attack by "punching them in the groin and poking them through their pants."
The accused teen had already acknowledged a charge of misdemeanor assault before he entered the Kalispell, Mont. youth court in which Judge Stewart Stadler presided. The teen likely anticipated a relatively straightforward sentence of community service or probation, as he received, particularly after he was already /0/" target="_blank">expelled from Glacier High for the remainder of the 2011-12 school year (he is reportedly finishing his freshman year at an alternative school).
What he couldn't have planned on were the four letters of accountability that he will be forced to write, or the victim-offender meetings he will take part in with one victim who requested them.
Clearly, the novel sentence is a more direct and slightly less public high school hazing equivalent of the Houston man who was forced to carry a sign proclaiming himself to be a thief after he was convicted of stealing funds from crime victims.
Still, it's incredibly difficult to argue that the letter writing demands are anything but a fair sentence for the teen involved. In fact, they constitute a much more active form of recovery than traditionally seen in connection with hazing incidents or other acts of youth violence.
Whether or not letter writing becomes a standard punishment in hazing cases remains to be seen, but one thing seems certain: The teen sentenced for hazing freshman teammates will think twice the next time he feels peer pressure … or sits down to write his Grandma on good old fashioned stationary.