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Illicit CP - August 2002

Bergen Record, New Jersey, 4 August 2002

Hazing reveals dark side of school

Mystery cloaks Hawthorne frat

By Charles Austin
Staff Writer


Last week, a shadowy fraternity of Hawthorne teenagers and young adults allegedly conducted an initiation ritual that left three youths badly hurt.

The identities of the alleged assailants remained unknown Friday, but could be revealed by early this week, when police in Ridgewood, where the incident occurred on July 26, say they expect to make arrests.

Police said they are withholding the names of the victims because they are minors. Parents familiar with the incident say the youths - incoming freshmen at Hawthorne High School - were severely paddled on the buttocks. Although police have declined to describe the injuries, they said the victims were hospitalized.

Meanwhile, the fraternity known as Sigma Delta Kappa, whose members allegedly took part in the hazing incident, is so secretive that Hawthorne authorities and average residents alike seemed to know little about it. Police said they had not had any prior difficulties with the group; residents said they knew of the hazing incident, but no one interviewed could provide names of current members of the group.

Part of the mystery may lie in history: The "fraternities" and "sororities" were once integral parts of teenage social life in Hawthorne. Though their influence has faded, there still is a mystique attached to the unofficial fraternities that have drawn Hawthorne High students into their circles for decades.

Former members describe the fraternities and sororities of the 1950s and 1960s as benign social clubs that would meet, conduct a little business, and then adjourn to the soda shop. Secret, ritualistic initiations - often involving being spanked by fraternity members - were an accepted part of teenage social life. Being a fraternity member meant having a group of special friends with similar interests. If there was a little rowdiness, said one parent, people looked the other way.

Today the remaining fraternities, SDK and another shadowy group known as Omega, reveal a dark side that repels many students and causes dismay among former members.

Some in town thought the organizations were dormant. Mayor Fred Crescitelli said he was "just beginning to learn" about the alleged activities of the fraternity.

Donna Shortway, whose family has run Shortway's Barn in Hawthorne, a bar and restaurant, for more than 50 years, agreed that hazing, especially paddling for the boys, was always a part of fraternity and sorority life. She remembers her brothers were eager to join the fraternities, but says she always thought the paddling was ridiculous.

"I cried when I knew they would have to go through it," she said.


In the 1980s, schools began banning the organizations from school property. An effort to suspend students who were members of the organizations failed on constitutional grounds but the school did ban students from wearing their insignia on school property, citing incidents of vandalism and rowdiness attributed to the fraternities.

The sororities slowly faded away, said Shirley English, another Shortway daughter who attended Hawthorne High and was a sorority member. But when her children passed through the school, the sororities had completely disappeared.

Current high school students say they know the fraternities are around, but they do not seem to be influential. "It's a scene I'd stay away from," said one senior, who did not want to reveal his name. His family has long been in Hawthorne and he said "I've heard that once they [the fraternity members] were a nice bunch of kids."

Another recent graduate, who now sometimes substitutes at Hawthorne High School, said that the fraternities seemed prominent when she entered the school in 1994, but were quickly fading away.

Ryan Defeo, who graduated from Hawthorne High School two years ago, speaks of the fraternities as vague, fringe entities of high school life. "I heard of them," he said, "but I never hung with that crowd." Like others, however, Defeo knew that paddling that had been a part of fraternity initiations.

Bill Shortway said each fraternity, usually designated by Greek letters, had their own signs. Sigma Kappa Delta was represented by a dog, he said, and another fraternity, Kappa Gamma Lambda, had a moose as its symbol. "There was discipline," he said, "if you talked out of turn at a meeting, you had to either pay a dollar or take a hit with the paddle."

Because it is believed that some Hawthorne graduates allegedly took part in the hazing, charges against adults are likely in the latest incident.

One high school senior not involved with a fraternity said, "This was a terrible mistake, and maybe people should learn from it."

Bergen Record, New Jersey, 7 August 2002

13 accused of assault in hazing incident

High school frat members charged

By Leslie Koren and Charles Austin
Staff Writers


Thirteen current and former fraternity members were charged Tuesday in connection with a high school hazing incident that sent three boys to the hospital.

Five adults, alumni of Hawthorne High School and the Sigma Kappa Delta fraternity, were charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, endangering the welfare of a child, and hazing, said Capt. Keith Killion of Ridgewood, where the alleged crimes occurred.

The first two offenses are third-degree crimes, punishable by up to five years in prison and $15,000 fines. Hazing is a disorderly persons offense.

Eight juveniles were issued complaints of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and hazing, to be answered in Family Court, Killion said. Their names were not released.

The five adults were identified as Jonathan Biele, 20, Gerald Flanagan, 18, Roger Keller, 20, Michael Faatz, 18, and Santiago Carrillo, 19. They are scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in Ridgewood Municipal Court.

All 13 either participated in or were present nearly two weeks ago at what was a rite conducted in order for the three incoming freshmen to be accepted into the fraternity, Killion said.

Each of those charged was released on his own recognizance. All are Hawthorne residents, police said.

Hawthorne police said two 14-year-old boys and one 15-year-old boy reported the incident to them on July 27.

The night before, the boys said, they had been blindfolded, brought to a secluded section of woods across the town line in Ridgewood, and smacked on their bare buttocks with a wooden paddle about 30 times each.

All three immediately went to The Valley Hospital in severe pain, their buttocks black and blue, Killion said.

Hawthorne Detective Lt. Martin Boyd and Detective Jeffrey Vanderhook soon determined that the incident had occurred in Ridgewood. They worked with Ridgewood Detective William Amoreso, Killion said.

As far as Killion knew, only the three boys were paddled.

Biele, Flanagan, and Carrillo could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Keller's father said his son was not home and declined to comment.

A person who answered the phone at Faatz's home said: "We don't want to say anything, and don't call again."

People in Hawthorne were reluctant to speak publicly about the fraternities on Tuesday. Privately, however, they had plenty to say.

"Whatever happened that night, it was stupid for them to do it," said a recent graduate of Hawthorne High School who did not want to give his name.

One mother leaving the municipal pool was pleased to hear that authorities considered the alleged acts criminal.

"It's good that they're arresting these people. I don't want this going on when my kids get to the high school," she said.

The woman, who would not give her name, said she had already advised her elementary school children to avoid fraternities.


Bergen Record, New Jersey, 28 August 2002

High school disciplines 10 students in hazing

Rules out sports, other activities

By Charles Austin
Staff Writer


Ten of the 11 Hawthorne High School students involved in a July hazing incident - including the three victims who required hospitalization - have been barred from sports and extracurricular activities. A similar ban is expected for the other student, who has not yet met with school officials.

Schools Superintendent Richard Spirito would not elaborate on the punishments Tuesday, nor would he say whether all those involved received the same penalties.

The penalties, which he said are in accord with the school's policies, will be meted out to the eight juvenile suspects arrested in the hazing incident and to the three freshmen who were injured when they were paddled on their bare buttocks.

The extent of the punishment, and how long the students will be kept out of school activities, "depends upon certain things that may happen, " Spirito said.

School officials met with the 10 students and their parents and "we made what we believe is an appropriate determination of their actions," Spirito said. "Then we followed our board-approved policy."

That policy requires all students who take part in athletics or other extracurricular activities to sign - along with their parents - pledges not to take part in fraternity or sorority activities. The fraternities and sororities, once staples of social life in Hawthorne and other towns, have declined in recent years and their activities deemed disruptive by school boards.


The July incident resulted in the arrest of eight juveniles and five adults. The adults face criminal charges, including assault and other felonies. The cases of the juveniles will be handled by family court.

Though the incident occurred in Ridgewood and arrests were made by Ridgewood police, the matter has been shifted to court in Passaic County.

blob Follow-up: 21 September 2002: 8 youths deny hazing charges

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