Football players at US Christian college charged in anti-Muslim beating


CHICAGO — Five football players at a private US Christian college have been charged in connection with a hazing incident that allegedly included anti-Muslim taunts and left a student half-naked on a baseball field in the middle of the night with injuries requiring surgeries.

The football players at Wheaton College, located in a Chicago suburb, were charged with aggravated battery, unlawful restraint and mob action, the prosecutor’s office told AFP on Tuesday.

Almost all of the charges are felonies, with the most serious carrying a sentence of two to five years in prison, DuPage County States Attorney spokesman Paul Darrah said.

The accused are currently listed as members of Wheaton’s football team — one of the top US collegiate football programs: James Cooksey, Kyler Kregel, Benjamin Pettway, Noah Spielman and Samuel TeBos.

They are accused of abducting a freshman teammate in 2016, beating him and leaving him with two torn shoulders that required surgeries, according to the Chicago Tribune, which cited unreleased investigative documents.

The victim, unidentified to protect his privacy, told investigators he was held down in a car while his abductors attempted to sodomize him with an object and then beat him, the newspaper reported.

The student also claimed Middle Eastern music was playing in the car while the abductors made offensive comments about Muslims “who wanted to fornicate with goats,” the Tribune said.

The student told the newspaper the incident had had “a devastating effect on my life.”

“What was done to me should never occur in connection with a football program or any other activity,” the student said in a statement to the newspaper, which also reported that he had left the college.

Prosecutors would not confirm details of the case, pending further court actions. The five students charged were to either appear at a late Tuesday court hearing or post a $5,000 bond, Darrah said.

The victim’s attorney did not return a request for comment.

Wheaton college said in a statement that it could not reveal details about the case due to the law enforcement investigation and federal student privacy protections.

But the school, which emphasizes “values as a Christian community,” said, “The conduct we discovered as a result of our investigation into this incident was entirely unacceptable and inconsistent with the values we share.”

The school added that it had implemented “a range of corrective actions.”

Those actions included requiring several players to perform 50 hours of community service, according to the Tribune.


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