A high school football team in Florida has been suspended after a hazing incident involving several players. The incident occurred at Viera High School located at 6103 Stadium Pkwy, Melbourne, FL 32940, and involved members of the varsity football team.
According to a statement from the school district, the incident was reported to school officials on Saturday, August 20, 2023. The statement said that the video showed several members of the football team forcefully held down as other teammates simulated sex acts with the victim.
The school district has suspended all football activities for the team, and the head coach, Shane Staples, has been relieved of his duties related to the football program. The district is also investigating the incident and has said that it will take "appropriate disciplinary action" against those involved.
Hazing is a serious problem in high schools across the country. It can involve a variety of activities, including physical and emotional abuse, humiliation, and forced participation in dangerous or illegal activities. Hazing can have serious consequences, including physical injury, emotional trauma, and even death.
The school district said that it is committed to creating a safe and supportive environment for all students. "We will not tolerate hazing in any form," the statement said. "We are working to address this matter swiftly and thoroughly." Until further notice, the varsity and junior varsity activities are put on hold, and all players will have to partake in an anti-hazing educational program in addition to a parent-player team meeting.
In light of the Florida hazing incident, we sat down with Michael Haggard, Esq., a local Florida-based hazing lawyer, to learn what victims of hazing can do with a civil case against those accountable.
Darla Medina: Mr. Haggard, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. I'm hoping you can shed some light on what victims of hazing can do with a civil case against those accountable.
Michael Haggard: Sure, I'm happy to help. Hazing is a serious problem, and it's important that victims know their rights. In Florida, victims of hazing can file a civil lawsuit against the individuals or organizations responsible for the hazing. The lawsuit can seek damages for the victim's physical and emotional injuries, as well as for any other losses they have suffered.
Darla Medina: Mr. Haggard, can a high school be held liable for a hazing incident?
Michael Haggard: A high school can be held liable for a hazing incident if it knew or should have known about the hazing and failed to take steps to stop it. This is because the school has a duty to protect its students from harm. The school's liability will depend on the specific facts of the case. However, if the school is found liable, the victim could be awarded damages for their physical and emotional injuries, as well as for any other losses they have suffered.
Darla Medina: What are some of the things that victims of hazing need to prove in order to win a civil case?
Michael Haggard: They need to prove that they were hazed, that the hazing was intentional, and that it caused them harm. They also need to prove that the people or organizations responsible for the hazing were negligent.
Darla Medina: What are some of the challenges that victims of hazing face when trying to win a civil case?
Michael Haggard: One challenge is that hazing is often seen as a rite of passage or a bonding experience, and it can be difficult to convince a jury that it is actually harmful. Another challenge is that hazing can be difficult to prove. Often, there are no witnesses to the hazing, and the victim may be reluctant to come forward because they are afraid of retaliation.
Darla Medina: What advice would you give to victims of hazing who are considering filing a civil lawsuit?
Michael Haggard: I would advise them to speak to an attorney who specializes in hazing cases. An attorney can help them understand their legal rights and options, and they can also help them gather the evidence they need to win their case.
Darla Medina: Thank you for your time, Mr. Haggard. This has been very helpful.
Michael Haggard: You're welcome. I hope this information is helpful to victims of hazing to learn more about their options.