Hazing has a long and complex history. In America, it dates back hundreds of years as part of fraternity and secret society initiations. Some people might argue hazing has always involved extreme acts. Regardless of its history or “tradition,” modern civilization does not condone acts that compromise human dignity. Just as the definition of cruel and unusual punishment has evolved over the years, so has America’s tolerance for hazing rituals – particularly those involving sexual abuse.
Today, the hazing sexual abuse attorneys of Estey & Bomberger, LLP serve students and families striving to achieve change in their schools and communities. We represent those willing to speak up and hold peers, teachers, coaches, schools, and others responsible for their roles in dangerous hazing rituals. Our firm will protect your rights and pursue justice and compensation under the full extent of the law.
California’s Anti-Hazing Laws
California Penal Code 245.6 explains how hazing is a crime in the state. In the 2000s, a California college student died from a hazing ritual involving drinking a large amount of water and exercising under extreme conditions. He died from water intoxication because fraternity members failed to call emergency services in time.
The statute criminalizes initiation/hazing rituals that may cause serious bodily harm to students. In extreme cases, California will consider hazing a felony offense. The hazing law also creates a new category for civil actions. Anyone who suffers as the result of a student hazing ritual may file a civil action against those who perpetrated the act as well as those within the organization who knew or reasonably should have known about it.
In addition to the specific hazing laws, those who experience sexual assault as part of a hazing ritual may file civil and criminal claims based on the applicable rape, assault, and negligence laws. The laws surrounding hazing and sexual assault can be complex. We highly recommend that students, professionals, and others who experience harm as the result of a hazing ritual speak to an attorney as quickly as possible to initiate an investigation and obtain relevant protections.
Defining Sexual Hazing
Sexual hazing goes beyond typical hazing activities to include any activity that causes mental or physical harm in a sexual way. Examples of sexual hazing may include forcing someone to incessantly repeat derogatory remarks, watch a demeaning physical activity, or engage in a sexual act. This form of hazing can take place in schools, workplaces, and any other group that requires an initiation or pre-initiation ritual.
Real-world examples of sexual hazing include:
- 2017 Texas high school student athlete hazing incident. In March 2017, officers arrested 13 students for hazing activities that allegedly included sexual abuse, sodomy, and rape. The abusive behaviors affected at least one 15-year-old underclassman.
- 2015 Georgia high school athlete hazing incident. In July 2015, between five and eight older students sexually assaulted and sodomized three freshmen team members at an overnight game.
- 2017 New Jersey airport customs and border protection officer hazing incident. In May 2017, reports emerged of sexually abusive hazing at the Newark Airport. Other officers claim their coworkers taped them to tables and committed clothed, but lascivious acts on the confined officers.
These incidents join a host of others reported across the country over the past several years – each tale filled with acts no human should endure. Many pursue civil claims to aid in personal recovery and to punish the wrongdoers. When hazing crosses the line from carrying a brick around campus to sexual abuse, our attorneys are here to help.
Your California Hazing Sexual Abuse Attorneys
If you or your child has endured degrading and sexualized acts of hazing in California, we urge you to reach out to us today. No one deserves to endure these acts of violence, assault, and sexual dehumanization. At Estey & Bomberger, LLP, we understand the laws and the case precedents currently governing civil claims of sexual hazing. Our hazing abuse attorneys will fight for your rights and compensation for the pain and suffering you have endured.
As legal advocates of hazing victims, we have an extensive network of clients and advocates who personally understand the hazing and associated legal battles. We can connect you to resources to help you heal and move forward after your experience. For a free consultation, contact our team at (800) 925-0723 today.