Maine West hazing trial under way

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Attorneys presented their opening statements today in the trial of a former Maine East High School soccer coach charged in connection with a hazing scandal.  Michael Divincenzo has opted for a bench trial, rather than having a jury decide his fate.

Divincenzo, 37, walked into the Cook County courthouse in Skokie this morning, offering a simple “no comment” when he was asked if he had anything he wanted to say before the start of court.

Several former and current Maine West students have accused Divincenzo of knowing that they were being hazed and sexually abused by older students and doing nothing about it.  In some cases, prosecutors say he even threatened younger players with hazing by varsity players.

The majority of the accusations center around the boys varsity soccer team and involved incidents in which older players pulled down younger players’ pants and sodomized them with their hands and other objects.

Tony Romanucci, the attorney handling the civil case that led to the criminal charges, says this has been a tremendous and horrible ordeal for his clients.

“They also feel like they’re victims of persecution,” Romanucci told reporters. “They are victims of embarrassment.  They are victims of shame.  They are victims of so many other things other than what happened to them on that field.”

“These children are carrying what happened with them, day in and day out,” Romanucci said.

Divincenzo has denied any wrongdoing.  He is charged with hazing, battery and failing to report abuse, all misdemeanors that could leave him facing up to a year in jail if he is found guilty.

Reporters learned in court this morning that the state offered Divincenzo two years of supervision.  He turned that down.

The civil case against Divincenzo, another coach, the school district and a principal is still working its way through the courts.

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  • Mom of a daughter

    Being a parent you would hope that when any misconduct whether it’s bullying, hazing , racism is active in schools it should be addressed! However, my biggest question in this case is, Why did the parents of these kids who allegedly were victims of hazing, did they drop the charges against the student who did this to them? Is it because money? Is it because blaming a teacher or principle will get those families more money? I question the motive behind nailing this soccer coach to the cross!?!? If this happened to my daughter you better believe the children who did this to her would be held accountable along with their families! Doesn’t make much sense to me! Good luck to the soccer coach…

    • ChicagoCommonSense

      Dear mom. I question your motives in writing this comment. It's nasty people like you who make it so hard for actual victims of abuse to come forward. They probably dropped the charges because they felt this was an ongoing cycle of abuse perpetrated and orchestrated by the coach.

      Dear mom (fraud), please go peddle your cr.ap elsewhere.

      • Mom of a daughter

        Dropped the charges only against the student because it is as you say “an ongoing cycle of abuse perpetrated and orchestrated by the coach.” Now sounds as if your friends of one of these student who are part of this war for money! Then if that was the case drop all charges. You make no sense at all! The kids who did this are low income and have no money to make these families rich! I don’t know him from Adam, or the teach or the other coach being accused! However they all have pretty big insurance policies that these families are going after! Listen, it’s my option and I think it’s crap! Again, I have a daughter and if kids did this to her they would go down, along with whoever didn’t report it and take care of the situation appropriately! Spew your spam elsewhere!

      • Mom of a daughter

        And a site note, that’s a bold statement to make that this was orchestrated by “the coach!” It’s people like you who make teachers and coaches question their jobs. I won’t bother to entertain your ignorant ranting! Let the kids who sexually assaulted this children go! And people like me want justice served to all who are wrong! Not just the bank..

      • Mom of a daughter

        So just to rub it in… NOT GUILTY!! So happy for you Michael…. Fraud my A**! Facts are what matters with the law! Not people trying to get rick fast and ruining a wonderful persons reputation! Karma…

  • Guest

    This is sick and disgusting! Sexually assaulted by teammates while the coach looked on!! Like some sick movie! This coach and these students should be jailed for life!!

    • JenniferJustice

      How do you know that the Coach looked on? Does is say that somewhere in the press or the arrest warrant? I'm curious and would like assurance this is a valid statement. If that's true, then the coach should absolutely be prosecuted. The big question here for everyone is did he know and how much? Witnessing such acts and being complacent or encouraging it is a deal-breaker.

  • anonymous

    why were charges dropped against the alleged predators ? it seems to me that these parents of victims is only going for the monetary value! Michael has been a coach there for 12 years ! I believe in my heart that Michael Divencenzo had no ideal that these boys did such things to these innocent boys! there is a God and He knows the truth and I hope and pray that Michael will be freed from all this blame. action should be taken against the ones that did it! they should be on trial!

    • ChicagoCommonSense

      Geee…you write exactly like mom above. So he's innocent because you know him? I agree said the best friends of Dahmer, Gacy and Ted Bundy.

  • Mom of a daughter

    So , word has it that the coach did NOT see any acts! Per the statements of the kids! Also, there was NO penetration of any kid! Word from the trail also has it that one of the kids cried after his testimony and stated he loved his coach! Wow, not sure where the lies came in, but to try and destroy peoples lives for money is a true sin! Trial postponed…. Exactly right, they had no hard evidence to prove he knew or saw any of this. And the kids stated they never told him. Orchastrated by the coach- bite your tounge you discuting mole!

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