AD and Coach Cited in Hazing Case

July 27, 2017

On March 29, six teens were arrested, and three of them were eventually charged, for incidents allegedly involving sexual hazing of players on the Hamilton High School football team, in Chandler, Ariz. Last Monday, according to azcentral.com, police recommended charging Steve Belles, the school's former head football coach, and school principal Ken James for failing to report the incident to law enforcement. On Thursday, police added Athletic Director Shawn Rustad to the list, reported kvoa.com.

Sergeant Daniel Meija of the Chandler police, said Belles and James could face charges for child abuse and failing to comply with “duty to report” rules. The Chandler Unified School District's guidelines for reporting states that when a district employee has reasonable belief that a child may be a victim of abuse, the employee must "immediately, within reason," contact appropriate child protective or law enforcement agencies. 

“This failure to act allowed the circumstances to exist under which three separate juvenile victims were either physically or sexually assaulted in the locker room at Hamilton High School between November of 2016 and January of 2017. It is likely these incidents could have been prevented with earlier police intervention,” the probable cause statement said.

Terry Locke, a spokesperson for Chandler Unified School District, said the district was aware of the charges, and that the individuals "remain innocent until proven guilty" in a statement.

"The District understands that the recommended charges relate to the state's mandatory reporting statute," the statement said. "The District reiterates the presumption of innocence that applies to these circumstances, and has no further comment on the matter."

Belles, who had led the school to five state championships, has deferred all questions about the case to his attorney, Dennis Wilenchik. In May, he said to Brad Cesmat, host of Sports360AZ, that his authority resulted in him being responsible.

“I was the captain of the ship,” Belles said. “I’m the one being held responsible. That’s just the way it goes when you’re the guy in charge.”

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