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Lake Catholic announces findings of investigation, punishments after lacrosse player wears swastika on leg during game at Orange

Lake Catholic High School has released the findings of its investigation into a lacrosse player wearing a swastika on his leg during a game vs. Orange.

MENTOR, Ohio — The video in the player above is from a previous story.

One week after a boys lacrosse player at Lake Catholic High School was spotted wearing a swastika on the back of his leg during a game at Orange High School, the school has released the findings of its investigation into the matter and ensuing punishments.

Findings

According to a release from Lake Catholic, its investigation found that a lacrosse player had used eye black to draw swastikas on three of his teammates as a prank before the game. The player drew the swastika on his palm and proceeded to press his hand against the arms of two teammates and the calf of a third, thus transferring the image.

While the two players with the marks on their arms became aware of the swastikas and rubbed the marks off, the player with the mark on his calf didn't become aware of it until it was brought to his attention during the course of the game. At that point, he removed the mark with the help of his teammates.

The investigation also said it found no evidence of any Lake Catholic players or coaches using antisemitic slurs during the course of the game. It did, however, find that an adult Lake Catholic team photographer used "coarse and profane," but not anti-Semitic language, during a verbal exchange with individuals associated with Orange High School.

Punishment

As a result of its investigation, Lake Catholic said that the player who put the marks on his teammates—a senior—was prohibited from participating in commencement exercises. He will not receive his diploma or final transcript until completing community service assigned by the school and he completes a program on Jewish heritage. The school said that he cooperated fully with the investigation.

The entire 2022 lacrosse team will also be required to take part in the program, which will be developed by the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage. Graduated seniors on the team will not receive their final transcripts until the program is complete.

Meanwhile, the adult team photographer who used profane language has been prohibited from acting in any official capacity relating to the school going forward and will be subject to further action if found to engage in similar conduct in the future.

The school also noted, as first reported by 3News' Marisa Saenz, that boys lacrosse head coach Chris Hastings and one of his assistant coaches had resigned.

Reaction

Following the announcement by Lake Catholic High School on Wednesday morning, Shawn Acton, the attorney for Hastings, provided 3News with the following statement:

"Chris Hastings is a husband and father. Mr. Hastings has devoted a significant portion of his life educating and coaching children. Mr. Hastings was the head varsity coach of the Lake Catholic High School boy’s lacrosse team. It has been widely reported in the media that a Lake Catholic High School lacrosse player had an anti-Semitic symbol on the back of his calf during a lacrosse match between Lake Catholic High School and Orange High School on May 16, 2022. Mr. Hastings did not become aware of this symbol during the match. In addition, this incident was not reported to the referees before or during the match. Had Mr. Hastings noticed or otherwise became aware of this symbol during the match, he would have taken immediate action. Mr. Hastings became aware of the symbol shortly after the match concluded and immediately reported the incident to Lake Catholic High School. At no time did Lake Catholic request Mr. Hastings resignation from his position as head coach, he chose to resign on his own volition.

It is Mr. Hastings’ understanding that Lake Catholic High School has undertaken an investigation of this matter and Mr. Hastings has been fully cooperative with that investigation. It is Mr. Hastings’ hope that all investigations bear all the facts and that all appropriate actions will be taken with respect to this incident.

Hate comes in many forms, including but not limited to, racism and anti-Semitism. Mr. Hastings throughout his life has personally condemned hate in all forms. It is Mr. Hastings hope that this incident sheds light on the problem of hate in our society. We as a people can always to better."

Also, Orange Schools Superintendent Dr. Lynn Campbell wrote a note to the school community that included the following:

"We have been communicating and sharing information with Lake Catholic and the Diocese of Cleveland throughout their investigation of this matter. In their action plan, I find it very appropriate that an educational piece, focusing on instructive and restorative elements was included. Young people need guidance and effective education to learn from these troubling experiences, and it appears that the Diocese has taken such an approach.

"In closing, I want to thank Coach Mitchen and Coach Senor as well as our fine student athletes for handling this very trying situation effectively."

The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage also provided the following statement to 3News:

"When we learned of the incident at Orange High School involving Lake Catholic, we reached out to the superintendent with an invitation to visit at no cost. Students could come for a museum tour, meet a survivor, and ask questions. In a situation like this, we want educators to know that we are here as a resource. We would extend the same invitation to any school or student group who is struggling with antisemitism or bias of any form in their classrooms, or on their ballfields. If there is an incident, please reach out, let us know, we are here to help by giving private tours and having open conversations. As adults, we might make assumptions about what a young person knows about the Holocaust, or about hate groups, or symbols of hate, when in fact they may be unaware of the depth of what a hate symbol like the swastika represents. So, we are here as a safe space to learn, ask questions, be curious, build empathy, and grow.

A standard tour is about an hour. A conversation with a Holocaust survivor is also about an hour. We are working out the details with Lake Catholic, but the program is expected to operate like a typical tour that we would do for any school group, with one exception: we are planning to have one of our Catholic docents and one of our Jewish docents lead the tour together." 

Finally, the family of the Lake Catholic lacrosse player who had the swastika unknowingly put on his calf released a statement through attorney Stephanie York, with partly read:

"As a result of the misinformation in initial news reports and online, the young player’s family has endured much undeserved criticism and blame. They are sickened that the young player was in any way involved – even unknowingly – in an incident that has, and will, continue to cause fear, hurt and anger throughout the Jewish community and beyond. They do not condone hate speech in any form, and the swastika placed on their son’s leg was not just a violation of his body, but wholly outside his character and outside the morals and principles that his parents have worked hard to instill in him throughout his life."

You can read the entire statement below:

More coverage from 3News' Emma Henderson:

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