Sheriff investigating alleged hazing by Fruitland High football players

The Payette County Sheriff is investigating a complaint that 11 members of the Fruitland High School Varsity Football team hazed members of the junior varsity squad last week, including shocking one player with a dog collar.

The complaint says that varsity players restrained three JV players — ages 14 and 15 — drove them to an island in New Plymouth, tied them to a fence and shocked one of them, according to a news release from Sheriff Andy Creech. The incident allegedly happened after the JV football game on Thursday.

The investigation is ongoing, Creech said, and no players have been charged.

Fruitland Superintendent Lyle Bayley said on Monday morning that the district is working with law enforcement as they investigate the case. Varsity players involved in the investigation were not allowed to play in Friday night’s football game, where the Fruitland Grizzlies fell 27-14 to Payette High School, Bayley said.

He declined to comment on whether the students related to this incident are in school this week, or whether members of the Fruitland Football coaching staff are facing any discipline or suspension amid the pending investigation.

This is the latest police issue in a troubled few years for Fruitland athletics, starting before Bayley became superintendent in 2020. In 2019, former Fruitland Basketball coach and high school principal Mike Fitch was charged with sexual battery of a school coworker, though he was acquitted of the charges later that year. Former assistant track coach Kelly Rhinehart was charged in 2019 with five counts including rape and sexual battery of a minor student at the school, allegations he disputed. The Attorney General’s office dropped cases against Rhinehart last year, saying it needed more time to investigate the case. Charges could be refiled, but have not been filed at this time. Both incidents prompted federal lawsuits against Fruitland for allegedly violating Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which protects students and employees from gender-based harassment and discrimination in schools.

And the Ontario Argus Observer reported last year that long-time football coach Ryan Tracy was disciplined by the Fruitland School Board in Sept. of 2020 for sharing plays from a rival football team. A regional athletic board suspended Tracy from coaching two games, fined the Fruitland School District $1,000 and put the coach on probation for a year.

Sami Edge

Sami Edge

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