Danvers High School: School tries to bury hockey team's racist, homophobic hazing allegations

Under coach Stephen Baldassare, the team reportedly engaged in hazing and had a 'disturbing group text chat'


                            Danvers High School: School tries to bury hockey team's racist, homophobic hazing allegations
Danvers High School in Danvers, Massachusetts (Danvers High School/Twitter)

The Danvers High School in Danvers, Massachusetts has been accused of attempting to hide racist, homophobic, and anti-semitic hazing events by its school hockey team. News of the events has finally come forward, over a year since they began after an expose by The Boston Globe, who spoke to one of the victims. Reportedly, the team's 2019-2020 season was filled with hazing sessions, while the team was being coached by Seargent Stephen Baldassare, who resigned over the summer of 2021.

In March 2020, Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania was forced to close two fraternity chapters over similar allegations, including rape. A month prior, another hazing scandal broke out from Kansas University, where cheerleaders alleged they were blindfolded and stripped naked. In September 2021, eight college students from Virginia Commonwealth University were arrested in connection with the death of Adam Oakes, who died due to alcohol poisoning from a hazing incident.

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It appears the police did investigate the allegations at Danvers High School but took no action because "there was no criminal behavior", a claim the victims have contradicted with their shocking allegations against the team. It also appears the school was aware, but again took no action and even attempted to squash the report via the court, but lost. 

Coach Steve Baldassare with the Danvers Falcons hockey team. (@DanversHSHockey/Twitter)

 

'Hard R Fridays' and 'Gay Tuesdays'

The victim, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Boston Globe the hazing occurred under the name of two events - 'Hard R Fridays' and 'Gay Tuesdays'. The former involved players being struck in the face with plastic sex toys until they shouted the n-word. The latter had players being touched inappropriately with the lights off, after being stripped naked. The events were regular fixtures at the team's 2019-20 season, which was coached by Danvers PD Seargent Baldassare. 

The school became aware of the hazing after an incident at the 2020 rolling graduation parade. Reportedly, spectators saw senior team members shout racial slurs at Black sanitation workers during the parade, which led school officials and the town to open an investigation. Over the course of two investigations, authorities became aware of the hazing, which also included a "disturbing group text chat laced with deeply offensive words and images." Those texts included jokes about the holocaust and the death of Black Americans.

The victim came forward to report the incidents after being forced into them in June 2020. Despite knowing the facts, the school appears to have attempted to bury the story. In January, Baldassare stopped coaching the team, before he resigned for good over the summer. He also denied any knowledge of the incidents during the investigation, but the victim said the claim was "hard to fathom".

A banner for the Danvers Falcons hockey team. (@DanversHSHockey/Twitter)

 

The story comes out after court battle

The town buried the reports and did not inform the community, The Globe reported, despite having completed their investigations. When the victim got in touch with The Globe, the paper attempted to get a redacted version of the reports but was denied. It then went to court, where the town has been battling The Globe's efforts for six months. The paper won an appeal in August, and Public Records authorities forced the town to hand over the reports.

When it did, The Globe noted that "the investigator’s findings and conclusions were almost entirely blacked out, as were specifics of the alleged locker room abuses and text chat." That led to another appeal on November 1, which the paper again won. The town was forced to hand over a less redacted copy, in which the details were visible. In its defense, the Danvers School Committee chairman said in a March meeting, "This is not because we are trying to sweep things under the rug or because there is some kind of coverup. It is simply because when employees, minors, and third-party witnesses are involved, there is a certain level of privacy that individuals are legally entitled to."

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