Wyoming High School wrestlers accused of waterboarding their freshman teammate will not be charged with any crimes, Natrona County District Attorney Michael Blonigen has announced.
Mr Blonigen said that he could not press charges against members of the Kelly Walsh High School wrestling team in Casper because although their actions amounted to ‘inappropriate hazing’, the victim had apparently consented to being waterboarded.
The family of the boy who was attacked have disputed his findings, arguing that at no stage did he agree to be waterboarded.
The incident is alleged to have happened after wrestling practice at the Kelly Walsh High School
The family of the High School pupil have strongly disputed the District Attorney’s conclusions
Prosecutors say the case had to be dropped because the victim gave consent to being waterboarded
Donald Trump has said that waterboarding can be seen as torture – but he believes it is ‘absolutely fine’ and ‘it works’ when interrogating alleged terrorists
Waterboarding an interrogation process that causes the recipient to experience the sensation of drowning.
The subject is usually strapped to a board and a cloth is placed over their mouth. Water is poured over the face, creating the feeling that the lungs are filling with water.
Mr Blonigen said that police interviews with the victim and his tormentors revealed that while he initially struggled – thinking that his teammates were urinating on him – when the towel was removed from his face, he saw it was water and stopped resisting.
‘If you consent to an assault, then it’s not an assault,’ Mr Blonigen said.
He said the victim – also a member of the High School wrestling team at the time – told police that when he walked into the locker room after practice he heard teammates say that they should waterboard him.
The victim struggled while at least three wrestlers pinned him down, put a towel over his face and talked about urinating in his mouth. The wrestlers then dribbled water on his face, the district attorney said.
The victim then pulled off the towel from his face, and after seeing it was not urine, voluntarily laid down again. He then placed the towel back onto his own face before others poured water onto his face for five seconds, Mr Blonigen said, citing police interviews with both the victim and others involved.
Mr Blonigen was quoted by the Casper Star-Tribune as saying he ‘really didn’t have any idea’ why the victim allegedly acquiesced to the second part of the incident, which was definitely unpleasant for him. He said the victim’s alleged compliance with the incident negated any potential assault charge.
Maybe the kid just thought, ‘I’ll get along with it, it’ll be over with,’ he said, pointing out that the victim told police that he ‘wanted to see what it was like’ and ‘kind of laughed about it’.
But a family member of the victim, who was with the boy during his interview with police, strongly disputed the district attorney’s version of events. She said at no point did the victim consent to the attack.
She said that no stage of the boy’s interaction with his attackers was consensual or voluntary and that ‘he struggled and was scared throughout’ as the bullies prevented him from escaping and held down his arms, legs, head and chest.
The family member said she had an idea how investigators could have thought the boy had consented to any part of the attack.