High school football hazing lawsuit asks for $12 million plus four big changes

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Davidson High School (Ala.) student athlete Rodney Kim Jr. was attacked by teammates in an alleged hazing incident, and how his parents are suing the school board. (WALA)
Davidson High School (Ala.) student athlete Rodney Kim Jr. was attacked by teammates in an alleged hazing incident, and how his parents are suing the school board. (WALA)

Rodney Kim Jr., a freshman quarterback at Davidson High School in Mobile, Alabama, had his arm broken during a vicious hazing attack after a late April practice. Now his parents have filed a $12 million lawsuit against the Mobile County Board of Education, but they’re asking for more than money. They’re asking that big changes be made at Davidson High School, and at high schools around the country.

The hazing incident was brutal

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The hazing attack that broke Rodney Kim Jr.’s arm is at the root of this lawsuit. On April 27, Kim (who had recently been promoted to the varsity team) was in the locker room after practice, and was pushed to the ground by one of his teammates. Once he was on the ground, a group of around 20 upperclassmen started hitting, kicking, and stomping on him. That’s how Kim’s arm was broken. A disturbing video of the attack went viral.

Mobile County Superintendent Martha Peek told AL.com that the coaches had been in close proximity when the attack occurred, and rushed to break it up as soon as they heard. However, Kim’s parents say this isn’t true, and Kim told them about a similar incident that happened to a fellow freshman a week earlier.

The lawsuit asks for more than just money

Mary Rayford-Kim, Rodney’s mother, told AL.com that her family is asking for $12 million in damages ($6 million for Rodney, and $3 million each for the parents), but that money isn’t the only object of this lawsuit. The family is asking for four big changes to be made to end the cycle and dangerous tradition of hazing at Davidson and at high schools around the country:

1) For Davidson to forfeit all football games in the 2018 season.

2) For each of the school’s football coaches to be fired.

3) For all 20 football players involved in the beating to be charged.

4) For hazing to be banned in all high schools across the nation.

Some of those objectives are more feasible than others (asking that hazing be banned in high schools around the nation isn’t something that an Alabama court can do), but it seems like the goal is to also bring attention to a national problem, as well as change the culture at Davidson.

The lawsuit also names superintendent Martha Peek, Davidson Principal Lewis Copeland and football coach Fred Riley. The family alleges that school officials knew of the hazing and allowed it to continue, and that several Davidson parents and employees have come to them with stories of other hazing incidents.

Has anyone been punished yet?

AL.com reported that four of the 20 students involved in the attack have been suspended. While the Mobile Police Department is still investigating, those four students have been charged with third-degree assault, but as juveniles and not adults.

How is Rodney Kim Jr. recovering?

Rodney had surgery last week to repair his broken arm, and his mother said that he was able to rest through the day and night on Saturday. However, he’s been having trouble sleeping since the attack. Rayford-Kim said that her son will not return to Davidson to finish out the school year. In fact, he may not ever return, as she said that they plan to have Rodney finish out high school somewhere else.

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at lizroscher@yahoo.com or follow her on twitter! Follow @lizroscher

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