Adding insult to injury, when incoming Ogden High School cheerleaders had their blindfolds removed after going through what school officials are calling a hazing incident, they stood, covered in condiments, in front of more than their cheerleading peers. Doused in ketchup, mustard, flour and pickle juice, they were surrounded by 50 of their classmates, most of whom were boys.
Nine cheerleaders were suspended after the May 4 incident, but Ogden School District spokeswoman Donna Corby said there is a parallel investigation underway to determine if any of the students who observed the initiation may have participated or provoked the treatment of the incoming cheerleaders.
Corby said the outgoing senior cheerleaders were suspended for between one to five days, depending on their involvement in incident.
She said incoming sophomores and ongoing cheerleaders were invited to a pizza and makeover party at an Ogden home. The new cheerleaders were blindfolded, taken to Forest Green Park, and told to do cheers, pushups and sit ups while blindfolded.
The girls then had condiments poured on them, while the older cheerleaders allegedly called them names and swore at them. When their blindfolds were removed, the girls found there were about 50 other students, mostly boys, observing the incident, Corby said. One of the girls, who was allergic to mustard, immediately broke into hives after the initiation, Corby said. She was able to leave the park and receive treatment.The girls were then taken back to the nearby home, and were hosed off in the backyard. Corby said officials have received conflicting reports that the girls were stripped to their underwear at that time, and said that some girls reported that they knew the initiation was taking place and wore bike shorts and tank tops underneath the sweats they wore to the park.
Several of the suspended girls missed their prom, Corby said, because the suspension fell on the same weekend as the dance. Corby said it appears that this initiation was somewhat of a tradition in years past for the cheerleading squad.
"There has been some sort of welcoming or initiation over the years," she said. "If any of those initiations crossed the line into hazing, we can't speak to that. We don't know."Ogden School District has a zero tolerance police for hazing, Corby added.
"We want all of our students to know that we want them to not only get an education in our district, but also enjoy other activities, and have a great, whole school experience," she said. "In my opinion, this has clouded the experience for our incoming sophomores, and I feel badly about that."
Ogden Police Lt. Scott Conley said the cheerleaders could face class B misdemeanor hazing charges, but said that investigation is still ongoing, and any charges wouldn't come until next week. He said he believes the girls would all be charged in juvenile court. Conley said there was some question about whether one of the liquids poured on the cheerleaders could have been urine. They believe at this point that it was likely pickle juice or another acidic liquid, but said the charges could be enhanced to a class A misdemeanor if biohazard bodily fluids were used in the firstname.lastname@example.org