Cromwell Football Coach on Leave Amid Hazing Investigation

The head football coach of the Cromwell High School football team has been placed on leave amid an investigation into hazing allegations, according to a district source close to the investigation.

State and local authorities are investigating hazing allegations involving members of the Cromwell-Portland football team, the superintendent in neighboring Portland said on Tuesday.

NBC Connecticut received emails from concerned parents claiming that Cromwell High School football players were hazing other teammates and a source within the police department said a minor has been arrested in connection with the case.

Parents who chose to remain anonymous, fearing retaliation against their children, said yesterday that the alleged hazing occurred in the boys' locker room.

According parents, one senior lined up freshmen and hit them with a belt, while others blocked the doors and windows and turned off the lights.

Dr. Philip B. O'Reilly, superintendent of Portland Public Schools, said in a letter to parents and staff members on Tuesday "the allegations do involve several underclassmen from both Portland and Cromwell who may have been hazing targets."

Cromwell police are investigating alongside the Cromwell High School administration and the state Department of Children and Families, according to O'Reilly, who said the principal and athletic director at Portland High School have contacted players' parents and launched an investigation of their own.

When NBC Connecticut reached out to Cromwell superintendent Dr. Paula M. Talty on Tuesday, she said the school district "will not tolerate harassment" and is cooperating with investigators.

"Cromwell community members should be reassured that the safety of our children is the district’s foremost concern and there are many policies and procedures in place to ensure the wellbeing of all our children. If we find after an investigation that any student has in fact been harassed, or has been treated inappropriately in any other way, we will take appropriate action to address the matter," Talty said in a statement on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, a district source close to the investigation said Cromwell High School Coach Chris Eckert has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

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