Allegedincident triggers criminal investigation
By Paula Hunt
Peninsula Daily News
An alleged attack on a teammate or teammates involving Forks High School football players returning home on a bus from a game on Oct. 8 in Friday Harbor is being investigated by the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office as a possible criminal event.
A press release from Superintendent Diana Reaume of the Quillayute Valley School District called it an “alleged hazing incident” that the district learned about around Oct. 14.
The two final games of the year — an Oct. 21 away game against Pe Ell-Willapa Valley and a home game on Thursday against Napavine — were canceled.
Reaume said that she, football coach Trevor Highfield, athletic director Kyle Weakley and Forks High School Principal Cindy Feasel made the decision to end the season early.
The sheriff’s office’s criminal investigation is being conducted alongside those being run by the school district and a third-party investigator the district requested through the Washington State Risk Management Pool, which provides insurance coverage and services to school districts in the state.
“This is a well-versed investigator who has high-level experience in handling these kinds of youth-related situations,” Reaume said.
The Forks Police Department is not involved in the investigation, Reaume said.
Chief Criminal Deputy Brian King of the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office said there were discussions about jurisdiction over the case, but because the bus had been traveling through Clallam County when the alleged incident occurred, it made sense for the Clallam office to conduct the investigation.
King said it was still very early in the investigation and until it can interview the victim or victims, the sheriff’s office will focus on collecting any documentation the school district has on the incident and obtaining a copy of a video taken on the bus that shows the alleged attack.
King said the school district contacted the sheriff’s office on Friday, Oct. 14 about the alleged incident and it opened an investigation on Monday, Oct. 17.
“They contacted us based on the fact this potentially could be a criminal matter and they are mandatory reporters of anything that appears to be potential abuse,” King said.
Under Washington state law, school district employees are legally obligated to report within 48 hours when they have reasonable cause to believe a student has suffered abuse and if criminal activity may have occurred.
King said Friday that the sheriff’s office had not yet interviewed the victim or victims. After it does, it will contact and interview potential suspects.
That the individuals are minors adds a level of complexity to the investigation, he said, particularly due to a Washington state law that went into effect Jan. 1 that requires juvenile suspects to speak with or consult with an attorney before being interviewed by law enforcement.
“It’s not as simple as just sitting down and having conversations with the potential persons involved,” King said.