Players Arrested and Expelled, Coach Out After Alleged Lutcher Middle Football Hazing in Louisiana

You are currently viewing Players Arrested and Expelled, Coach Out After Alleged Lutcher Middle Football Hazing in Louisiana

The Advocate | October 27, 2022

Three young teens who played for the Lutcher Middle School football team have been expelled and arrested on criminal hazing counts and their coach has been ousted, according to law enforcement, school officials and an attorney for one of the accused.

St. James Parish sheriff’s deputies said this week that they arrested the two 13-year-olds and one 14-year-old over accusations that six students had been hazed in the middle school football locker room earlier this school year by the trio.

In a statement, Sheriff Willy Martin Jr. said the hazing acts “ranged from victims being beaten with belts, victims being stuffed into garbage cans and victims forced or beaten to say racial words.”

Though sheriff’s deputies didn’t offer more details on the “racial words” allegation, school officials alleged at least one of the expelled players had pestered others to use a derogatory term for Black people, saying the athlete had told the other players that they had “a pass” to use the foul language.

Wilbur Reynaud, a prominent local attorney representing one of the youths, and the parent of another of the accused students disputed the allegations, saying they were false or nothing more harmless than locker room horseplay.

“You need to investigate the right way, not railroad these three kids,” said the mother of one of the expelled students.

During an expulsion hearing for one of the other students Tuesday, Reynaud claimed 90% of student witness statements presented to the School Board were written by school officials who interviewed 12- and 13-year-old students without their parents present.

“They’re alone, and this person is telling them stuff,” Reynaud said.

The Advocate obtained the challenged witness statements, with the names of students redacted. Several of the hand-written statements contain neat, cursive writing. Some of the statements weren’t first-person accounts but rather appear to restate a question posed to a student by someone else and then give that student’s answer.

In a unanimous vote, the School Board upheld the expulsion on Tuesday night against Reynaud’s client. The School Board upheld the expulsion against another child Oct. 11, the mother of that child said.

Sheriff Martin said the criminal portion of the cases has been turned over to District Attorney Ricky Babin’s office.

Interim School Superintendent Kelly Cook declined to comment Tuesday and didn’t return a follow-up call to her office on Wednesday.

The ousted middle school coach, T. J. Bourgeois, also declined to comment and said he was speaking with an lawyer.

Two other coaches had been placed on temporary leave with pay, Bourgeois said.

The seventh- and eighth-grade middle school is housed on Lutcher High’s campus.

Typically, juvenile arrests and school expulsions remain cloaked in secrecy due to state privacy protections for juvenile offenders and due to state educational privacy laws.

These expulsions and arrests, however, burst into public view this week after the rare public expulsion appeal hearing at St. James High School in Vacherie.

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