By Associated Press - Thursday, March 3, 2016

LEECHBURG, Pa. (AP) - Authorities aren’t filing charges over hazing-related assaults on a high school basketball team because the victims don’t want to prosecute and investigators can’t find evidence of criminal intent, a police chief said.

Police Chief Michael Diebold said in a report released Wednesday that boys on the Leechburg basketball team were hazed or assaulted with a stick over the last 10 years, including in December. He called the complaints “valid.”

The chief said boys would be dragged or lured into the locker room and held down while others tried to use the stick to sexually assault them. In December, however, the investigation showed that no clothing was removed and nobody was penetrated with the stick, the chief said.

Diebold contends the allegations show there may have been a “catastrophic failure” within the Leechburg Area School District and the board should correct the issues.

The board voted last month to allow the boys team to participate in the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League playoffs after the chief announced he was investigating the allegations. Leechburg lost in the first round.

Frank Prazenica, acting school superintendent, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment Thursday.

The school district’s solicitor, Robert Cinpinski, said the district is waiting for results of an investigation by a law firm it hired.

The firm’s investigation should determine “what the district knew or should have known, and who knew or should have known what,” he said. Until then, the district won’t act on the chief’s findings or its own, Cinpinski said.

Coach Damian Davies said Thursday night that he’d never heard anything about hazing during his time with the team, and no parents had ever made any accusations or come to him with concerns.

“As soon as we heard something, we took action,” Davies said.

The police chief said Davies has, through his attorney, “chosen to remain silent and not answer questions” about the hazing allegations.

The chief said the investigation remains open in case any additional players or others come forward with allegations.

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