University of Vermont officials failed to investigate properly allegations of hazing on the men's hockey team that eventually forced the cancellation of the team's final 15 games of the season, state attorney general William Sorrell said yesterday.
Sorrell also announced that team captain Kevin Karlander, 23, is facing misdemeanor criminal charges of providing alcohol to a minor, and that more alcohol-related charges are possible against other upperclassmen.
At a news conference in the state capital, Montpelier, about 35 miles from the university's home of Burlington, Sorrell said his office's six-week investigation revealed that virtually all the allegations leveled against the program by former freshman walk-on goalie Corey LaTulippe are true. LaTulippe left school in mid-October after failing to make the team.
"Obviously, we're pleased," said LaTulippe's attorney, Gail Westgate, who brought the player's original allegations to the attention of university officials in mid-September and filed a lawsuit Dec. 10 on LaTulippe's behalf against university president Judith Ramaley, Coach Mike Gilligan, Karlander and assistant captains Matt Sanders and Andreas Moborg. "Corey is vindicated from a factual point of view."
The lawsuit is similar to an Oct. 28 letter Westgate wrote to Ramaley that alleged that during an Oct. 2 party LaTulippe and eight other freshmen were "directed" to undergo hazing that included excessive drinking and having to parade while holding each other's genitals.
Sorrell and law-enforcement officials in the county in which the university is located have agreed not to pursue the most serious sex charges against those responsible.
Vermont has no law prohibiting hazing, but Sorrell said he would recommend one be passed.
According to university officials, the players were questioned during two separate investigations of LaTulippe's allegations and admitted to nothing close to LaTulippe's most serious charges. On Nov. 26, Gilligan announced sanctions that included each player missing one game and the team having to participate in up to 10 hours of community service.
After the lawsuit was filed Dec. 10, Ramaley said she asked Sorrell's office to investigate. Players began to change their stories and, after determining they had lied, Ramaley terminated the season Jan. 14.
"UVM's investigation of the alleged hazing was insufficiently thorough to ascertain the truth and, as designed or conducted, served primarily to buttress the university's position in the event of the filing of a civil lawsuit," Sorrell said during his news conference.
Later, Ramaley said: "I believe we acted in good faith, but our good-faith efforts failed."