Former HS Football Players Sentenced in 2020 Hazing Incident


Four former Pennsylvania high school football players were sentenced Monday for their part in a 2020 hazing incident. 

According to The News-Item, Mount Carmel High school team captains Reed Witkoski, 20, and Damon Dowkus, 21, pleaded no contest to hazing, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person; Tyler Owens, 21, pleaded guilty to hazing and criminal conspiracy; and Michael Balichik, 21, will enter the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program on the charges of hazing and criminal conspiracy.

Witowski and Dowkus will serve a year of probation and have been ordered to pay a $50 fine plus costs of prosecution. The judge sentenced Owens to nine months of probation and ordered him to pay a $50 fine plus the costs of prosecution.

“Hazing is a serious offense that can have devastating consequences,” Attorney General Michelle Henry stated after Monday morning’s hearing. “The victims in this case wanted nothing more than to feel a part of a team and the positive experiences that come along with that. Young people should think seriously about the effects of their actions, as anyone who intentionally causes harm to other individuals will be held accountable.”

The hazing allegations were initially revealed on Oct. 9. 2020, when the team cancelled its game against Warrior Run. Four days later the team cancelled the remainder of its season. 

 An investigation found that on Sept. 23, 2020 and Sept. 30, 2020, players were invited to Witkoski's house to watch game footage. During the watch party, captains Witkoski and Dowkus, along with another captain, intentionally burned the new starting player with lit burning stick and sparklers as part of an informal initiation. 

In total, nine former Mount Carmel football players — four adults and five juveniles — were charged by the Attorney General’s Office.

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