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Nine former football players charged with hazing in Mount Carmel area

The Mount Carmel Area School District cut the football team's 2020 season short because of the hazing allegations.

MOUNT CARMEL, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Attorney General's office announced it has filed charges against nine former football players from the Mount Carmel Area School District.  

Investigators say those football players were involved in a hazing incident in 2020.  

Players were invited to the home of Mount Carmel Area team captain Reed Witowski to watch game footage, according to investigators.

During the watch party, Witowski, Damon Dowkus, and other team members burned the new starting players with lit burning sticks and sparklers as part of an informal initiation.

Now, two years later, the state attorney general's office has charged nine former players in connection with the incident.  

Witkowski, Dowkus, and another person who was a juvenile at the time are charged with hazing, simple assault, and intimidation of a victim.

Tyler Owens, Michael Balichik, and four others who were juveniles at the time have been charged with hazing and criminal conspiracy to commit hazing.

The Mount Carmel Area School District cut the football team's 2020 season short because of these hazing allegations.  

District Superintendent Pete Cheddar said since these allegations, Mount Carmel has put a number of responses in place.  

For example, all student-athletes must now complete a hazing informational course once each school year.  

"Our district plan will be to work collaboratively as a learning community, to do whatever is necessary to best support a safe and welcoming environment both in the classroom and on the athletic field," Cheddar said.

According to the parents we spoke with in the Mount Carmel Area School District, two of the juveniles charged in this hazing investigation are still students at the high school and played football this past season.

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