A group of lacrosse players at a high school in Michigan is accused of animal cruelty after reports they killed a guinea pig and used its blood as body paint.
At least ten teens, students of Grosse Ile High School, are being investigated by police this week as police determine who may have been involved in the incident. According to local reports, the teens have been suspended during the investigation process. In addition, all further Red Devils Lacrosse games have been suspended for the remainder of the season or until the conclusion of the investigation.
The alleged animal killing may have been a part of a bonding ritual the athletes performed prior to a game. Information is still being gathered at this time, but current allegations include that not all, but “several” of the team members were involved in the killing, some going as far applying the blood as body paint, and according to one team member, one student may have even injested some of the animal’s blood as part of the ritual or display.
In the meantime, the school is not taking further actions against the students who are involved. According to a statement given by Superintendent Joanne Lelekatch, the school will defer to law enforcement in order to ensure they have the access and information they need to conduct their investigation, and after the completion of the investigation, the school can opt to take further action based on their student and athletic guidelines and handbooks.
The school is not issuing any further statements at this time, in respect of students’ privacy.
There haven’t been many other statements widely released about the incident, although one community member has spoken out. Grosse Ile local Michael Goddard told television station WJBK, “If that’s what happened, I think maybe more than suspension should happen. That’s the serial killer kind of stuff.”
According to the Michigan Penal Code, the students could be charged with animal cruelty and could face jail time for animal cruelty since the animal in this case died because of the cruelty. You can read more about Michigan’s animal cruelty laws here on their website. To summarize, all non-human vertebrates are protected under the penal code in some form in that the “owner, possessor, or person having the charge or custody of an animal shall not” beat the animal, nor “negligently allow any animal, including one who is aged, diseased, maimed, hopelessly sick, disabled, or nonambulatory to suffer unnecessary neglect, torture, or pain.”
This is not the first incident regarding high school athletes and accusations of animal sacrifice. In 2011, two teenage baseball players from Texas were charged with cruelty to animals after reports of them killing two baby chickens. Both students were dismissed from their high school sports teams.
Animal cruelty is an issue that is taken seriously, both through the school systems as well as through the criminal systems. Students who engage in such activities are subject to penalties from both the school and law enforcement.
The Gross Ile High School Lacrosse team investigation is still currently open.