Six students, one coach charged in Philomath football hazing inv - KPTV - FOX 12

Six students, one coach charged in Philomath football hazing investigation

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Philomath High School (KPTV) Philomath High School (KPTV)
Philomath High School (KPTV) Philomath High School (KPTV)
Philomath, OR (KPTV) -

Six students and a coach are all facing charges in a hazing investigation surrounding the Philomath High School football team.

The charges stem from a summer camp held on the Oregon coast at Camp Rilea in July.

Benton County District Attorney John Haroldson said at least 11 freshmen were victimized at the camp. While the details of the hazing have not been released, Haroldson said it involved “offensive physical contact with intimate parts.”

The students, who range in age from 15 to 17 years old, are facing various misdemeanors related to assault and harassment. A 22-year-old volunteer assistant coach, Cooper Kikuta, is facing a count of misdemeanor criminal mistreatment.

“After the students returned from Camp Rilea we received a report at the high school that led to us contacting law enforcement immediately,” Philomath School Superintendent Melissa Goff told FOX 12.

Goff said the district is taking action.

Members of the football coaching staff have been on paid administrative leave since July, pending the outcome of the investigation.

The district will also be launching its own internal review.

“We are hiring an independent investigator and we are going to look at all aspects of this situation,” Goff said.

Goff said Kikuta is not an employee of the school district. Five paid coaches also attended the summer camp, but they have not been cited in the case.

The first three football games of the season have been canceled, and for now, the football program remains on hold.

“The gravity of the alleged charges are extremely concerning to us. Our first priority is that every child is safe in our schools,” Goff explained. “We’re taking a pause right now to make a decision on football until we’re sure that all of our students are well taken care of."

Mental health services have been offered to all football players, and additional counseling was available for students as they returned to class for the start of the school year Tuesday.

In August, all secondary coaches and advisors went through mandatory training on district policies surrounding hazing and harassment.

Additionally, all staff will go through “Stewards of Children,” a child sex abuse prevention training program in September.

“This is an opportunity for us to come closer together, to wrap more tightly around our kids and to find our path forward together in a positive way,” Goff said. “That’s what I’m seeing happening.”

To see Superintendent Goff’s full statement surrounding the hazing investigation, go to philomath.k12.or.us

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