The parents of a city student whose butt was branded in a Junior ROTC hazing ritual charge his teachers knew about the brutal tradition and did nothing to stop it.
Teachers chaperoning a field trip where a Queens high school student was badly burned and sexually assaulted by fellow JROTC cadets knew about the disturbing annual antics, but failed to prevent it, the family alleges in a lawsuit filed Thursday in Queens Supreme Court against the city Department of Education.
A 15-year-old student at Francis Lewis HS in Fresh Meadows says he was forced to lay on his stomach as an older cadet repeatedly pressed a hot clothes iron into his buttocks, telling him “it was tradition, and I should be grateful, because it has been a lot worse in the past,” The Post exclusively reported last November.
A second cadet attempted to anally penetrate the younger student with his finger and ordered the boy to masturbate, he charged.
The alleged hazing happened during an overnight stay in April 2018 at a Hilton Garden Inn in Westampton in Burlington County, NJ, where the JROTC’s elite athletic squad, The Raiders, took part in a yearly competition on the Fort Dix military base.
The lawsuit blames a “culture of hazing, bullying, assault and abuse” in the Francis Lewis JROTC program, one of the biggest in the country.
The teacher chaperones, Col. Albert LaHood, the chief military instructor, Christopher Dash, Shirley Madison and Peter Rompf “knew of the . . . hazing ritual” but “were deliberately indifferent,” the suit alleges.
LaHood denied any knowledge of the ritual.
“I was not aware of the hazing tradition,” LaHood told The Post. “This is the act of two rogue boys, and it’s sad and tragic.”
Rompf said he retired a year prior and was not on the trip.
The Burlington County Prosecutor charged the two teens Wednesday with multiple criminal counts of hazing and assault.
The names of the two 17-year-olds were not made public because they were charged as juveniles. The public defender’s office, which is representing both teens, declined to comment.
The city DOE said it is now tightening supervision on overnight field trips. Francis Lewis disbanded the Raiders last June.
The boy’s parents are suing for unspecified damages to cover the medical and therapy treatment their son has received.
“The parents feel that the recent criminal charges against the individual assailants are appropriate given the severity of this event,” said the family’s lawyer, Michael Kutner of Pulvers, Pulvers & Thompson.
“But they want the adults and institutions that failed their son on so many levels to be held accountable as well.”
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