Police investigate hazing allegations of women’s rugby team at Vermont college

Team at Norwich University accused of branding and waterboarding other team members

Vermont police have launched an investigation into hazing allegations surrounding the women’s rugby team at Norwich University in the state, including allegations of branding and waterboarding.

Police have executed search warrants and went to a residence hall at the private military academy in Northfield to collect evidence, the Barre Montpelier Times Argus reported.

According to a police affidavit, officer Karie Tucker of Northfield police spoke to an alleged victim who reported that she had been “branded” using pliers and a lighter by other members of the rugby team. In Tucker’s affidavit, the victim reported that she was too intoxicated to refuse and would have not agreed to be branded had she been sober.

Tucker also found a Snapchat video on a phone in which the victim in question was holding a chair down and another woman sat in the chair with a cloth held over her face as a third woman poured liquid on to the cloth.

According to court records, Tucker said she would describe what she saw as “waterboarding”.

In a statement to the Times Argus last Friday, the Northfield police chief, John Helfant, confirmed that the police activity on campus was related to hazing allegations that involved “branding and waterboarding of and by NU students”.

He also revealed that school officials refused to allow police access to students in their dormitories and instead only allowed police to speak with students in a conference hall, marking a departure from a previous verbal agreement that the police department and the school since Helfant has been chief, he said.

And according to emails obtained by the Times Argus, the school had decided – before the hazing allegations – that it will not provide body-camera footage and other investigative material from its security personnel to police without a subpoena.


Maya Yang

The GuardianTramp

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