The attorney for one of the 16-year-old defendants in the Wilson High School baseball team hazing case says he's advising his client not to accept a plea deal that's on the table, and he says there's no evidence the hazing incident had any sexual overtones.
No one is questioning that something happened at the back of the bus as the Wilson baseball teams returned home from their games in Niagara Falls back in April. Three varsity players stand accused of sexually abusing some junior varsity players in a hazing ritual during that bus trip. But, attorney Andrew Vona who represents one of the 16-year-old defendants claims the incident never went further than slapping and punching, and was not sexual in nature. Vona does not think his client should accept the plea offer that's on the table. "I understand from a prosecution standpoint this is their starting point," says Vona, "We have engaged in some positive discussions and we will continue to do that."
Neither the Niagara County District Attorney nor the defense attorney are saying exactly what the current plea offer involves but both sides would like to avoid a trial. "It doesn't seem to me like it's a situation anyone in the community would want dragged through the publicity of a trial," says Vona.
In addition to the criminal charges for the three varsity baseball players, the Wilson school district is also now looking at a potential lawsuit. At least one of the victims is preparing to sue and is claiming school officials did not do enough to prevent the incident from happening.
When the plea deal was offered, a court date for the three defendants was re-scheduled for August 28th. The district attorney says he would like that court date to happen sooner than August 28th if the defendants are not going to accept the plea. The D.A. says he'd like the matter resolved before school starts in the fall because the victims have to attend the same school as their alleged attackers.