Disciplinary action taken against Desert Hills High cheerleaders allegedly involved in hazing

Desert Hills High School, St. George, Utah, Sept. 6, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Allegations have come to light of a hazing incident involving several Desert Hills High School cheerleaders perpetrated against younger cheer team members in June.

The incident, which is currently under investigation by the Washington County School District, was captured in a series of videos.

The individual video clips show several older girls setting up the scene inside of a house. The younger teens are kept out of the room until each is brought in one at a time and told to lie down on the floor. A pillow is then held over their face and they are instructed to do sit-ups as quickly as possible once the pillow is removed.

In each video, while the younger teen is still on the floor with her face covered by a pillow, one of the older teens squats over the girl with her bare buttocks, which is painted with a red substance. Once the pillow is lifted, the younger girl sits up rapidly to perform the sit-up, but instead, her face collides with the older teen’s buttocks, transferring the red substance all over the girl’s face.

In one particular video, the hazing recipient begins crying and trying to wipe the substance from her face, all the while another teen laughs and takes pictures just inches from her face.

Each hazing incident is individually filmed at an angle to catch both the incident itself and the recipient’s reaction. In the background, girls laugh and switch places while the room is set up for the subsequent hazing.

Washington County School District Communications Director Steve Dunham confirmed that there was a situation that is being investigated for possible misconduct.

Sources familiar with the incident say the older girls who allegedly perpetrated the hazing have been suspended. There were fewer girls than usual performing on the cheerleading squad during the football game at Desert Hills High School Friday.

According to the “Bullying and Hazing” summary of policies in the 2019 section of the Washington County School District student handbook, the school district is “committed to protecting its students, employees and school guests from bullying or harassment of any type, for any reason.”

“Hazing,” as defined in the handbook, is a form of bullying done for the purpose of “initiation or admission into affiliation with, hold office in, or as a condition for membership or acceptance” in any school or school-related event. The handbook states that bullying or harassment in any form “will not be tolerated and shall be just cause for disciplinary action” and would be dealt with “immediately.”

The sources familiar with the situation said the incident took place at the end of June and that an email from Desert Hills High School to the parents was sent out one month later at the end of July. However, the school district administration was only notified “within the last 48 hours,” according to sources.

St. George Police are aware of the incident.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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