Richland 44 School Athletic Director Leaves in Midst of Investigation

BISMARCK, ND (AP) – There’s been another departure at the North Dakota high school where an alleged hazing incident led to charges against five boys.

Richland 44 School District board president Lisa Amundson says athletic director and head football coach John Freeman has left the high school.  WDAY-TV reports Amundson would not say whether Freeman was dismissed or resigned.

Freeman’s departure follows announcements earlier this week of superintendent Tim Godfrey resigning and high school principal Bruce Anderson retiring.  It’s not immediately clear if the leadership changes are related to the ongoing investigation into hazing and sexual misconduct alleged to have occurred in the boys locker room.

A public records request revealed the district hired the Minneapolis law firm, Langevin Lentz, to investigate the matter.  A 46-page report says Godfrey, Anderson and Freeman all denied knowing that variations of something called the “rape game” had been going on for years.  Godfrey was confronted by two parents on January 17.  The report also claims at least two incidents of sexual misconduct were reported to Anderson and to a coach, but never investigated.

Godfrey, Anderson and Freeman have been unavailable for comment.

Authorities in mid-February referred five boys to juvenile court.  They are collectively charged with 13 misdemeanor counts of hazing, 11 misdemeanor counts of sexual assault, nine felony counts of felonious restraint and one felony count of terrorizing.  Authorities say all of the victims were male.