North Smithfield halts football team activities amid hazing investigation

NORTH SMITHFIELD, RI (WPRI) – All activities have been suspended until further notice for the North Smithfield High School football team as the district investigates hazing allegations.

In a letter sent directly to the football players’ parents, Superintendent Michael St. Jean said the district learned of a potential hazing that took place last year that involved players on the team.

St. Jean said the district, along with the North Smithfield Police Department, the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), immediately launched a investigating hazing allegations.

The entire football team has been banned from participating in practices, practices and games until the investigation is complete, according to St. Jean.

“We understand how important participation in athletics can be,” St. Jean wrote. “However, given the seriousness of the allegations involving football team players, we must err on the side of caution in order to protect all of our students.”

While details of the allegations have not been made public, St. Jean called them serious.

In another letter to North Smithfield parents, St. Jean said the district was hiring an independent firm to “conduct a thorough investigation, the results of which will be made public when complete.”

“I want to assure you and reinforce that our school district takes any allegations of hazing, bullying or other misconduct very seriously,” he said. “That’s why we took these steps.”

12 News contacted the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office about the investigation, which a spokesperson confirmed they were involved in.

“We commend the school department for their prompt notification to this office, law enforcement and the DCYF and their cooperation to date,” the spokesperson said.

North Smithfield Police released a statement on Tuesday confirming their involvement in the investigation, but provided no further details.

Anyone with information relevant to the investigation is asked to contact Detective Gregory Chito at (401) 762-1212 ext. 225.

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