Disciplinary action follows accusations of hazing - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Disciplinary action follows accusations of hazing at cheerleading camp

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Memorial High School officials say disciplinary action has been taken after allegations of hazing at an out-of-town cheerleading camp. 

14 News found out about the incident through a letter that was sent to the station and apparently several households as well. The letter claims upperclassmen on the Memorial High School cheerleading squad hazed underclassmen girls while away at the UCA Varsity Cheerleading Camp. The letter also alleges the students and victims who came forward now continue to be bullied in school.

The letter is addressed to "Members of the Evansville Community"and says cheerleaders were hazed for hours, told if they didn't participate they would be kicked off the squad. The letter says some girls were even brought to tears and the incidents continued. The letter also says coaches endorsed the behavior and told the girls at practice the next day not to report the hazing to anyone.

The alleged incident happened while the Memorial High School Cheerleading team was away at cheer camp at the University of Tennessee on June 22 through June 25.

The Universal Cheerleaders Association tells 14 News the participants are involved in sessions throughout the day and at night stay at the dorms at the university where the coaches are supposed to act as chaperones.

UCA says there were no incidents reported and had they known about such hazing those involved would have been sent home to their parents immediately.

One of the coaches called out in the letter, Jill Mitchell denies the claims against her. She says she and two other coaches were asked to resign on Friday.

Mitchell, a mother herself, says if she would have been advised of the situation she would have reported it. She also says all of the parents have her contact information, and if they had a concern could have contacted her directly.

She also said she was disappointed the person who wrote the letter did so anonymously.  

Brother Lawrence Murphy, superintendent of the school, tells 14 News both coaches have resigned and some cheerleaders have been disciplined.

Memorial has released a statement saying, " Recently the administration of Reitz Memorial High School became aware of an incident involving the school's cheerleading squad. The school has concluded an extensive investigation and will not comment publicly on the investigation or any action taken by the high school on the basis that all personnel and student disciplinary matters are private and confidential." 

"Reitz Memorial High School has never and will never tolerate any behavior from our students that is inappropriate, intimidating, or which makes others feel uncomfortable or unsafe in any way. We take the welfare and safety of all of our students extremely seriously, and we are firmly committed to providing a safe, healthy, Christian environment for our students, both in and out of the classroom." 

Mitchell has given us a statement about the accusations. Mitchell says:

"I deny claims and the letter against me and my coaching staff. If hazing happened during my watch, I would not have condoned it, and if I had been advised of the situation that took place, I would have immediately reported it to the athletic director. It is unfortunate and disappointing to me that the person who wrote the letter didn't sign it. All of the parents have my contact information and if they had a concern could have contacted me directly to discuss those concerns."

"As for the particular details in the letter as to my involvement, I just a few hours ago met with the athletic director and he informed me that not one individual or student implicated me or my coaching staff in having knowledge, condoning, or consenting to the alleged incident at cheer camp.

"We talked a few minutes ago and discussed point by point accusations in the letter, and every case the athletic director confirms that their investigation concluded that neither my coaching staff or myself had knowledge, or involvement in promoting the alleged occurrences."

We'll keep you updated.

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