Their choice, not ours

Recently, a man left a message on my work phone asking if we had even bothered to get the other side of the story involving hazing accusations in Erie.

He didn't leave me any contact information. So here's my answer, sir: We have tried hard to get the other side.

But we can't force Erie school district officials to talk, or produce documents. It's up to them.

Senior wrestler Mitchell Mallary has detailed instances of hazing. He said upperclassman wrestlers urinated and placed their genitals on their younger counterparts.

The coaches witnessed and even took part in some of the hazing, Mallary said.

His very first accusation of misconduct proved true – three coaches admitted to spraying water and throwing ice at nude wrestlers as they showered. The district reprimanded them.

But the district said its investigations couldn't find any evidence of Mallary's other accusations.

We asked for the reports from those investigations. The district denied the request. Among other reasons, it said it didn't want to reveal information that could identify specific wrestlers.

That's the district's choice, not ours.

These reports apparently bolster the district's case that nothing else bad happened. We are ready and willing to report that information.

To the caller's question, we also have left messages with Athletic Director Chuck Milem and head coach Tod McCullough. No return calls.

That's their choice, not ours.

We also have left messages with every board member with a publicized number. Only one called back, and he referred us to Superintendent Brad Cox.

That's their choice, not ours.

Have our stories been one-sided? Perhaps. But the school district could change that.

Will it?

Sauk Valley Media reporter David Giuliani covers the Whiteside and Lee county governments, Morrison and other smaller communities. He can be reached at dgiuliani@saukvalley or at 800-798-4085, ext. 525.