Warren police chief says De La Salle students paid 'high price' in hazing case

All charges have been dropped against students said to be involved in a hazing case out of De La Salle Collegiate High School in Warren. Charges against seven students were dropped and the cases have been dismissed it was announced Thursday.

"It was bullying intimidation, things of that sort. A tradition that De La Salle had gone through for many years," said Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer. 

All of this came to light in October 2019  when Warren police began investigating a hazing incident at De La Salle High School.

It was an investigation that police commissioner Bill Dwyer says was tainted from the start.  He said the school president (John Knight) delayed reporting the incident involving seven football players by weeks, and spoke to potential witnesses before police.

"The president of De La Salle and the coach (Mike Giannone) of De La Salle are no longer there," Dwyer said. "I think the climate has changed dramatically and I think the young men involved, they paid a price." 

Investigators initially learned the football players held the victims to the floor of the locker room and allegedly used a broom to intimidate and haze the victims.

But St. Clair County Prosecutor Michael Wendling says there was never any evidence of penetration recovered. To avoid a conflict of interest, Ex-Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith had the case handled by the neighboring county.

"It was never the intent of the Warren Police Department to ruin a young life, but we have a responsibility to fulfill an obligation," Dwyer said.

Prosecutor Wendling charged the seven students with assault and battery - but because of Covid, the trial was delayed.

Wendling told FOX 2 he made a deal to dismiss the charges if the seven football players completed the following conditions:  

  • An anti-bullying program 
  • Graduate 
  • Write apology letters to victims
  • Write an essay on their plans for the future

 They did, and Dwyer along with the victims was satisfied with the outcome. They are ready to move on., knowing the culture has changed at de la salle and bullying will no longer be tolerated.

"I think De La Salle is a better school today than it was because of the investigation because the president is no longer there and I think there was a good lesson learned," Dwyer said.