Player charged in Wheaton College hazing ‘frustrated’ and ‘disappointed,’ attorney says – Chicago Tribune

 In Sports
Wheaton College football player Noah Spielman is “frustrated” and “disappointed” by the criminal charges against him after a lengthy investigation into a 2016 hazing incident, his lawyer said.

Spielman, who is expected to plead not guilty, was punished following an internal inquiry at the evangelical Christian school last year, attorney Mark Sutter told reporters Wednesday. Though Sutter said he did not know the details of the punishment, Spielman remained a full-time student and a member of the football team.

Sources told the Tribune that several players were required to perform 50 hours of community service and write an eight-page essay reflecting on their behavior. Spielman and his four co-defendants in the hazing case did not play in the home opener last season, but records show Spielman played in all the rest.

Given that the school wrapped up its investigation months ago, Spielman’s attorney questioned why it took police more than 18 months to make a decision in the criminal case. The charges do not hinge on the kind of DNA or forensic evidence that typically prolong an investigation.

“He was exonerated to the extent that when charges likely could have been levied (last year), they weren’t,” Sutter said. “I don’t know what the impetus is for the delay. I certainly will investigate that. … I guess exonerated is the wrong word, but the fact is they were punished. It was handled internally.”

Wheaton police said it was a complicated case that involved many people, including multiple suspects, a victim and several other witnesses. It was also slowed during the summer months when students left campus, authorities said.

A Wheaton College spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. Earlier this week, the school called the hazing incident “unacceptable” and contrary to the school’s religious values.

A 21-year-old defensive lineman from Columbus, Ohio, Spielman turned himself in at the Wheaton Police Department late Tuesday night and was released on $5,000 bail. He and his teammates have cooperated with law enforcement throughout the investigation, authorities said.

“He’s certainly, shall I say, disappointed, frustrated,” Sutter said. “This is something that has been lingering for over a year and a half.”

Spielman is the son of former NFL All-Pro linebacker Chris Spielman, who now works as a football analyst for Fox Sports. Sutter said Spielman’s family has faith that the college student’s name will be cleared.

“His family — while shocked and disappointed, to say the least — are accepting and understanding,” Sutter said.

Spielman, along with teammates James Cooksey, Kyler Kregel, Benjamin Pettway and Samuel TeBos, were charged this week with aggravated battery, mob action and unlawful restraint after being accused of a hazing incident in which authorities said a freshman teammate was restrained with duct tape, beaten and left half-naked with two torn shoulders on a baseball field.

The five players were suspended from the team’s games and practices following the charges.

Spielman, who transferred to Wheaton from a Division I program in 2015 because he wanted a more religious-based education, hopes to return to the playing field soon, his attorney said.

“There are three things in life that he absolutely adores: his faith, his family and his passion for school,” Sutter said. “And certainly football fits in there as well. If he had his wishes, he would be playing this weekend.”

The Thunder, a Division III program ranked fourth in the nation, are scheduled to play at Elmhurst College on Saturday. Three of the five accused athletes, including Spielman, played in last week’s victory over Carthage College.

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