Verbal abuse, silly string sprayed in the mouth, being shoved into a pool while bound and blindfolded - if it's between consenting adults, that's what some of us at Hair Balls consider a smooth second date. When it's less than welcome and serves as an initiation ritual, though, it's referred to as illegal hazing.
Two of the victims and their mothers also spoke up today, giving a press conference with their lawyers Randall Sorrels and Chelsea Garza. Both lawyers represented the family of Jack Phoummarath, a UT student who in 2005 died of alcohol poisoning related to hazing, in a case against Phoummarath's fraternity and some of its members that resulted in a $4.2 million settlement.
This time around, the lawyers are working pro bono. Sorrel brushed off a question of whether any civil damages would eventually be sought, saying this is about getting the girls' story out there to prevent similar situations.
The girls - Courtney Nickell and Laura De La Cruz, both 15 years old now - echoed that sentiment. Their mothers, Catherine Nickell and Diane De La Cruz, said their daughters were still dealing with the emotional wounds the hazing caused and often feel ostracized at school.
Of course, this being a press conference with mostly television reporters, both girls were asked to recount the often bizarre circumstances of the incident in extreme detail. (Gotta get that perfect clip.) Here's some of the weirder stuff - you'll feel just like you were there!
-- The soaked shorts on the head gag...we'll let Laura De La Cruz speak for herself on this one: "One of the girls was trying to disguise her voice to sound like a guy, and I started laughing because I thought it was funny. Then she goes, 'You better be quiet, or you're going to end up like your little friend Courtney, who has urine on her head right now.'" Yeah, if we had a dime for every time we've heard that one.
-- Courtney Nickell had to do the doggie-paddle to swim to safety after being pushed into the deep end of a pool with her hands bound in front of her body with duct tape. This is significant because experts acknowledge the doggy-paddle as the most humiliating of all the swimming strokes.
-- The hazers only curtailed their fit of bad judgment after some of the girls - who were lined up and re-bound with tape after the pool-shoving - started crying. Laura De La Cruz said this stopped them from executing their next phase, which apparently involved shower caps. It seems the female members of the iPod generation are also capable of freaky, Lord of the Flies-type shit. God help us.
-- The girls were taken to breakfast afterwards -- the ostensible premise for the gathering -- but only after they were told they had to walk home. (Jokes!) And they paid with their folks' money and sat, soaking wet, at a different table than their hazers. We hope none ordered the seafood omelet - that would have officially made it the Worst. IHOP. Experience. Ever.
-- Blake Whitaker
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