By Kristy Kibler
Jacob Royce, a 17-year-old student and former member of the wrestling team at Warsaw High School, has been granted youthful offender status in connection with an alleged hazing incident on Dec. 9, 2011 that left a younger teammate with a broken jaw.
Royce was originally charged with hazing in the first degree and evidence tampering, a felony. The case is now sealed, and after he appeared in a closed court session on Monday, March 19, the criminal case is closed, said Don O’Geen, Wyoming County district attorney.
The Buffalo News reported that Royce entered a guilty plea, though since the case is sealed, that plea is not necessarily to the original charges.
The hazing incident on December allegedly involved Royce and another wrestler, a 16- year-old, encouraging two younger wrestlers, ages 14 and 15 at the time, to punch each other after one asked what they could do to stop being bullied. The final blow broke the 15-year-old victim’s jaw.
The evidence tampering charge were a result of a Warsaw Police investigation that determined that Royce allegedly taped all three punches involved in the incident on his cell phone but destroyed the footage of the second and third punches in an attempt to blame the entire incident on the victim.
The investigation also found that several instances of hazing have been reported over the past several years, and that the alleged assault was the culmination of several incidents over the past year.
The 16-year-old involved in the incident has been given youthful offender status from the beginning and was also originally charged with first-degree hazing.