No Charges Against Hamilton High Staff After Hazing, Assault Incidents
There will be no charges against school administrators for not reporting alleged physical and sexual assault at Chandler’s Hamilton High School.
On Wednesday, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said there wasn’t enough evidence for his office to proceed with a criminal case.
“While the allegations are sufficiently detailed for me to personally conclude they happened, that is insufficient for us to present that information to a jury and meet the burdens of proof necessary,” Montgomery said at a press conference.
Chandler police says varsity players on Hamilton’s football team committed multiple assaults against three students under the age of 15.
Investigators had recommended charges against principal Ken James, assistant principal and athletic director Shawn Rustad and former head coach Steve Belles, all of whom allegedly were aware of what occurred. State law would require them to report the incidents to law enforcement.
But Montgomery said the failure of individuals with firsthand knowledge of the events to cooperate with his office prevents him from filing such charges.
“I need that [evidence] before I can draw the conclusion that responsible adults then should have reported to law enforcement under our mandatory reporting laws," he said.
Two teens and one adult have already been charged for their involvement in the hazing, but Montgomery characterized those as “discreet matters” that did not help with the “litany” of other allegations.
“We were not provided access to individuals, to teammates who we know would have been present, would have heard and may have been victimized,” Montgomery said.
He also had tough words for those parents who did not provide that “access” to their children.
“I can’t get into their heads. I can’t come up with a rational explanation why they think it’s in their child’s interest to withhold information from law enforcement,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery said he had put off making this announcement in hopes people would come forward, but that hasn’t happened.
His office remains committed to the case, even though they can’t proceed at this time.
“We are not walking away from this,” he said.
Chandler Unified School District Superintendent Camille Casteel said in an email that James, Rustad and Belles were assigned to a different work site during the investigation.
Belles later notified the district he would not be returning.
The email did not say whether Rustad or James would be staying with the district.