Brunswick School District Superintendent Phil Potenziano said an investigation into hazing, bullying and harassment involving members of the high school football team will likely conclude next week.
On Tuesday, The Times Record reported on a Sept. 16 letter from Potenziano addressed to high school football parents, which referenced allegations of hazing activities during a football team retreat at Thompson’s Point in August.
At this point the allegations involve the football team exclusively. The district has not released further details regarding the situation. The football team is made up of around 40 players. It is unclear how many may have been involved.
“We’re hopeful to have the investigation wrapped early next week, late this week, but more than likely early next week,” Potenziano said. “We have a zero-tolerance for these behaviors, they are strictly prohibited in Brunswick High School, it’s also illegal under state law. Bullying, harassment and hazing is just not acceptable, and we forbid it at the high school on the campus or anywhere else.”
Attorney Allen Kropp of the Portland firm Drummond Woodsum is leading the investigation for the school district. Kropp declined to comment further on the specific allegations.
“That investigation is (ongoing), and we encourage all individuals, any and all individuals, to reach out to me or Mr. Kropp if they have any additional information regarding this situation,” Potenziano said Wednesday.
According to Brunswick Chief of Police Scott Stewart, police were also contacted and updated on the situation, but were not actively involved in the investigation as of Wednesday.
According to a 2008 study by Stop Hazing, an organization that researches and collects data on hazing, 47% of students experience hazing prior to coming to college, and 55% of students involved in clubs, teams and organizations experience hazing in college.
Susan Lipkins, a New York-based psychologist and author who specializes in hazing, said that in general hazing can range from mild to severe, and is used typically by younger groups as a tradition to maintain the status quo or to discipline.
“What I call that blueprints of hazing is that you come in and you’re new and you just want to be accepted by your teammates and so you’re victimized or your hazed,” Lipkins said. “And then the next year you become a bystander and you watch the other people get hazed, and then eventually you are in the senior position and you have the authority and the power and you do on to others what was done to you,.”
Lipkins said she believes sexualized hazing as a way to humiliate victims has increased and become more intense among boy’s high school athletes’ team. Victims who report the hazing, Lipkins said, are often shamed further and isolated which can cause anxiety, depression, and at times post-traumatic stress disorder.