Wheaton College football players face felony charges in alleged brutal assault on fellow student

PHOTO: Entrance sign to Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois.PlayGetty Images, file photo
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Five football players from Wheaton College -- a Christian school in Illinois -- are facing felony charges for allegedly assaulting another student last year.

The alleged incident happened in March 2016 in Wheaton, about 25 miles west of Chicago, during which the alleged victim claims he was taken forcefully out of his dorm room, restrained against his will and left at a baseball field, Wheaton Police Chief Jim Volpe said Tuesday.

According to an investigation report obtained by ABC News, the alleged victim told school investigators that he was in a dorm when several people burst in, held him down, "violently" pulled his arms behind him and wrapped duct tape around his ankles and wrists.

The attackers put a pillowcase on his head and duct-taped it, and put him into a car, the alleged victim told investigators.

The alleged victim told investigators his attackers attempted to sexually assault him with an object, and that he was also punched and slapped.

He told investigators that he was taken to a baseball field; he said dirt was thrown on him, his cellphone was taken and he was left there partially naked.

After an over year-long investigation, a judge Monday signed arrest warrants for five Wheaton football players in connection with the case and set bonds at $50,000 for each, Paul Darrah of the DuPage County State's Attorney's Office told ABC News.

The five players are being charged with aggravated battery, mob action and unlawful restraint, Volpe said. The players have been "deemed inactive for practice or competition by the College’s administration and coaching staff," the school said Tuesday evening.

Volpe claimed Tuesday that part of why the investigation took so long was there were many people to interview, and since the alleged incident occurred close to the end of the school year, many individuals police were looking to speak with were gone during the summer.

Volpe said all the young men are expected to turn themselves in within a few days, but there is no set deadline on when they must do so. Volpe said they have fully cooperated. As of Tuesday evening, two of the players had turned themselves in.

Darrah said the most serious charge -- aggravated battery -- carries a maximum sentence of two to five years in prison.

The alleged victim told school investigators he suffered labral tears on both shoulders from the way his arms were pulled and restrained.

The alleged victim left Wheaton College shortly after the alleged incident.

Wheaton College said in a statement that it is "deeply troubled by the allegations brought by law enforcement against five members of our football team."

"When this incident was brought to our attention by other members of the football team and coaching staff in March 2016, the College took swift action to initiate a thorough investigation," Wheaton College said. "Our internal investigation into the incident, and our engagement with an independent, third-party investigator retained by the College, resulted in a range of corrective actions. We are unable to share details on these disciplinary measures due to federal student privacy protections.

"The conduct we discovered as a result of our investigation into this incident was entirely unacceptable," the school said.

The college said that its anti-hazing policy and training protocols were revised in 2014 "to include a formal review of our anti-hazing policy with all student-athletes every year, with required student signatures."

"This incident has prompted our Board of Trustees to engage outside experts to lead a campus-wide review of the level of effectiveness of our anti-hazing policy and of the culture around how students treat one another in our campus communities, athletic teams, and organizations. Wheaton remains committed to providing Christ-centered development programs and training to all our students," the school said. "Despite these deeply troubling charges, we have experienced positive changes on campus, including rapid responses from campus leaders to reports of hazing or other inappropriate behavior and effective disciplinary review."