Edmonton police are looking into an alleged incident of hazing involving the W.J. Mouat Secondary senior boys basketball team.
Scott Pattison, Edmonton Police Service (EPS) spokesperson, told The News that they have begun a “preliminary investigation.” He did not shed any additional light on the nature of the incident.
According to a Thursday evening report from CTV, the EPS’s sex crime unit is now involved.
“We’re just poking around at it right now, and that’s as much as I can tell you,” Pattison told The News earlier.
“I do know that initially it didn’t look like we were even aware of it. But I do know now there are a few people who are aware of it, and they are starting to kind of poke around and investigate. It’s very preliminary as of today.”
Earlier in the week, Abbotsford Police Const. Ian MacDonald had stated that the local force’s school liaison officer was aware of the circumstances, but the EPS has jurisdiction because the alleged incident occurred while the Mouat Hawks basketball team was in the Alberta capital for a tournament. The Mike Dea Classic, hosted by St. Francis Xavier high school, ran Dec. 5-7.
The Abbotsford school district, at this time, is not releasing further details of the incident, which was described as “very poor decision-making” by Hawks head coach Rich Ralston.
Seven Mouat student athletes have been suspended in the aftermath. Three of the players will be subject to a school review, while four are facing a more serious district board of review.
The review proceedings were initially scheduled for early January 2014, but school district communications manager Dave Stephen said that the timeline has been accelerated for the school reviews for the three players, and could be completed within 24 hours.
The range of disciplinary options for the district review include suspension from the basketball team and/or the school, or expulsion. In the event of expulsion from Mouat, Stephen said the students would be placed in another school to complete their education.
As for the preliminary police investigation, Stephen said that the school district “will co-operate to the fullest” with the Abbotsford and Edmonton forces.
“We were aware the Abbotsford police had opened a file and had reached out to the Edmonton police,” he said. “It’s not an investigation we’ve triggered, other than our school liaison officer came in. It would have been triggered by a complaint. It’s almost parallel to what we’re undergoing.”