WEST NEW YORK, N.J. — A varsity baseball team in New Jersey is under scrutiny after a video surfaced of what looked like hazing.
“This is outrageous. I have zero tolerance for this kind of behavior,” West New York Mayor Felix Roque said Thursday.
According to West New York officials, a group of Memorial High School varsity baseball players bound, gagged and dragged a fellow player across the field at Miller Stadium on April 4.
Mayor Roque was furious, demanding answers about what happened. He said a teacher told him about it.
“Everything seems to be hush, including I just spoke to my police director and he verbally says to me that he didn’t find it necessary to advise me that this was taking place,” Roque said.
But West New York’s police director said he does not believe this was a hazing incident.
“I haven’t seen the video, but from what I understand, it may look worse that what it really is. I believe he was duct taped and dragged about 10 feet but again he is a willing participant, not a victim,” Police Director Robert Antolos said.
Antolos said police believe this was a prank, and the alleged victim was in on it so the group could make a video for social media.
“First thing we did was speak to the alleged victim and at which point he said it was all joke,” Antolos said.
Police said the West New York School District is now handling the incident.
Superintendent Clara Brito Herrera issued a statement Thursday: “My Administration and the Board of Education take all complaints seriously and are committed to conducting a thorough investigation and pursuing disciplinary/corrective action, if warranted.”
One Memorial High School student had advice for the baseball players involved.
“I think that you probably shouldn’t be doing that. Especially it could cause issues with the law, because bullying is pretty bad,” he said.
This incident inflamed an already heated political fight in West New York. The mayor, angry about the alleged hazing or prank, was also upset he wasn’t in the loop with police and the school district.
The police commissioner is running against Roque in the upcoming mayoral election.