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Football Query Shifts to Norwich

Police Investigate if Hanover Team Hazing Party Occurred in Vt.

Hanover — Norwich police are helping Hanover investigators determine if a gathering of Hanover High School football players that may have involved hazing occurred at a residence in Norwich.

Hanover High forfeited its football game, that was slated for today, after a majority of the team participated in what school officials called “egregiously inappropriate” skits “of a sexual nature that objectified women.”

A letter to parents said the incident happened at the home of a Hanover High parent on Saturday, Aug. 24, in a gathering of players celebrating the end of double-session football practices.

The school reported the event to Hanover police because under state statute, a school is required to report suspected hazing to local authorities.

Norwich police Chief Doug Robinson said Thursday that his police department is involved in the investigation because the department heard the incident might have happened at a player’s home in Norwich.

“Slowly bits and pieces are coming in, but we’re not sure where it happened,” Robinson said.

Hanover Police Capt. Frank Moran would not say whether or not the incident is suspected to have taken place in Norwich, but confirmed that it’s likely that another jurisdiction will take over the investigation once a location is determined. Once that happens, Hanover police would assist the other jurisdiction in the investigation. Moran said he does not yet have a precise location.

Hazing is defined by Vermont statute to be any intentional, knowing or reckless act committed by an individual against another person in connection with pledging or as a requirement to be initiated into an organization which is intended to have an effect on a person’s mental or physical health.

The statute also says, “hazing shall not include any activity or conduct that furthers legitimate curricular, extracurricular or military training program goals.”

Moran would not provide more details about the incident.

“I am anticipating a whole litany of facts to support the concerns beyond what I have, so until I have that information, I’m going to hold off,” Moran said.

He added that he’s expecting the school to provide more detailed information.

“The high school is doing the right thing,” Moran said. “I don’t think they’re overreacting. It’s a responsible reaction.”

Hanover High School Principal Justin Campbell said Wednesday that there were no injuries, no violence, no drugs, no alcohol and no laws broken.

Although Hanover High forfeited today’s football game against Kearsarage, other homecoming contests are continuing as scheduled, school officials said.

Hanover High has 37 players listed on the 2013 roster. None of them were suspended from classes.

Sarah Brubeck can be reached at sbrubeck@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.