St. Paul's School cancels varsity lacrosse season

Player who made sex video expelled

8 boys off JV team

April 04, 2001|By Lynn Anderson and Lem Satterfield | Lynn Anderson and Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

St. Paul's School for Boys has canceled its varsity lacrosse season and expelled a player who videotaped himself having sex with a girl and showed the tape to his teammates, the school's headmaster announced yesterday.

In addition, eight players were removed from the junior varsity lacrosse team for the remainder of the season, according to a written statement from the headmaster, Robert W. Hallett. Disciplinary action for three other students has been delayed pending investigation, he said.

All students who viewed the video, including at least two who are not on the nationally ranked lacrosse team, will be suspended for three days, starting today, Hallett said. They will attend a chapel service, speak with the chaplain, and meet with a school psychologist as part of "a service education program designed to educate and heal," he said.

The boy who was expelled plans to enroll in a public school in the Baltimore area, said a source close to the situation.

In a statement to players and parents yesterday, Hallett expressed sorrow and regret. He spent much of the day behind closed doors at the Brooklandville campus, meeting with administrators. The school's board of trustees met for three hours Monday to review possible sanctions.

"It is an understatement to say this is a devastating event - first and foremost because a young woman was humiliated," Hallett said. "We cannot overstate our expressions of sorrow and support for her. Some of our students I know have made personal expressions of apology to her, and I believe more will and should be forthcoming."

Hallett met with team members and parents at 5 p.m. yesterday for about 20 minutes to give them the news. Then parents were asked to leave so that head coach Mitch Whiteley could speak with players privately. A few boys left the meeting in tears, a parent said.

A board of trustees member said he backed Hallett's decision. "It's a very big deal that the lacrosse season was canceled, given the long and proud tradition that the school has with the sport," said Dr. Ignacio Rodriguez. "But it was the only decision that could have allowed the school and the lacrosse program to regain its dignity."

St. Paul's parent Ann-Stuart M. Darrell, the mother of a senior lacrosse player, said Hallett exemplified the school's prayer in choosing the "hard right over the easy wrong." She said his decision would serve as an important lesson not only to team members but for all students. "[Lacrosse] is a game. This is about the formation of the boys, the young men," she said.

The scandal began when a 16-year-old sophomore on the junior varsity team, who was also on the varsity roster, videotaped himself having sex with a 15-year-old girl from another private school without her knowledge. He showed the video to a small group of teammates, and a few nights later a varsity player showed it to two dozen team members.

The scandal puts an end to what looked to be a stellar season for the Crusaders. The varsity team began the year as perhaps the nation's most talented lacrosse team, with No. 1 rankings locally and nationally. Eleven players are committed to play for Division I college programs after graduation.

Some seniors have been offered college scholarhips that could be jeopardized. The cancelled season could hurt juniors seeking scholarships because they will lose playing time and exposure to recruiters.

Dennis O'Shea, spokesman for the Johns Hopkins University, said it is possible for seniors who have received their college acceptance to have that offer rescinded. "This is done all the time for academic reasons and could certainly be done for other reasons," said O'Shea, who emphasized that he knew of no connection between the Hopkins admissions process and any students involved in the situation at St. Paul's.

So far, the St. Paul's case has not triggered criminal charges. Neither the victim nor the school has filed complaints with police.

Baltimore County Deputy State's Attorney Sue Schenning said that the case is being closely monitored, but declined to elaborate. "It's safe to say we're looking into the matter to see exactly what the facts are and determine if there's any action that needs to be taken," she said.

She declined to say whether investigators have questioned anyone involved in the case.

The scandal has also caused St. Paul's to postpone this week's planned telephone fund-raiser with alumni, said Claire Acey, a school spokeswoman.

Former St. Paul's lacrosse player D. Michael Satyshur, a 1998 graduate, said the incident is an embarrassment for anyone who's played lacrosse at St. Paul's or attended the school. Forfeiting the season seems appropriate, he said.

"It seems like that's the least they could do to try to make that girl feel better," said Satyshur, who plays for Duke University. "I guess they have to pay a penalty for what they did."

A St. Paul's lacrosse player who was at a teammate's house the night the sex video was shown said he had no idea it would be viewed. The players had gathered to watch a videotape of their next opponent.

"From what I knew, we were going to watch a game tape and that's it," said the boy, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "It was totally unexpected. At the time we really didn't realize how wrong it was."

He said that about 24 players were scattered about the house that night, some playing pool. "Not everyone was gathered in front of the big-screen television," he said.

He expressed remorse for what had happened. "It's really sunk in, now. We've spent a lot of time reflecting on what happened, the actions that we took part in. Our first priority right now is that this girl is going to be OK.

"We're ashamed of what we did."

Sun staff writers Andrew A. Green, Dennis O'Brien and Michael Hill contributed to this article.

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