UPDATE: Hutchinson teens accused of branding formally charged

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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HUTCHINSON, Kan. -- Three teens accused of branding students with wire hangers have been formally charged.

Tuesday, 18-year-old Kendric S. Hudson was charged with three counts of aggravated battery and one count of hazing. Jaiden M. Casanova, also 18, was charged with one count of aggravated battery and one count of hazing. The battery charges are felonies.

They're expected to make their first court appearances on Friday.

A 16-year-old suspect was charged with felony aggravated battery on Monday in juvenile court. Reno County District Attorney Keith Schroeder says he has not intention of trying him as an adult.

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Three students at Hutchinson High School are accused of forcibly branding other students on school property.

Police say all of the students, including the victims, are on the football team.

The young men arrested are Kendric Hudson, 18, Jaiden Casanova, 18, and a 16-year-old who has not been publicly identified because he is a juvenile.

Hutchinson Police say they learned of the alleged branding from parents of the victims.

Sgt. Tyson Meyers says four freshman football report the three upperclassmen branded them with a clothes hanger.

"The clothes hanger is folded back and forth and then the end gets very hot," Meyers said. "Those students (reported) they were touched on the stomach."

Ray Hemman, spokesman for the school district, says head football coach Randy Dreiling learned Thursday of an alleged hazing incident that possibly occurred Wednesday and turned the matter over to administrators and police.

One 18-year-old student is being held on various charges, including criminal restraint. Another 18-year-old was released on bond. A 16-year-old student is being held by juvenile authorities.

The Reno County District Attorney's office confirmed Monday the juvenile has been formally charged. Court documents show he's been charged with aggravated battery and possession of tobacco by a minor.

Students at Hutchinson High School say the alleged hazing is the talk of the school. But they say they aren't surprised by the allegations.

"It's been going on for a few years now," Leticia Garza said.

Lane Hammond says he went through the "initiation" when he was a freshman football player three years ago.

But he says he doesn't think the coaches were aware it was going on.

"The (other players) heated up a wire and it touches you less than a second and then you get congratulated," Hammond said. "It's usually just a one touch thing but this year it got out of hand."

He and other students hope these arrests end what they say has become a hazing tradition on the football team.

"I think they should end it here," Hammond said. "It got out of hand and it's time for it to stop."

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