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Barnesville hazing defendant pleads ‘no contest,’ found guilty

BARNESVILLE — An 18-year-old defendant in an apparent hazing on Barnesville Exempted Village School District property will be sentenced in January.

Jayden Lucas of Barnesville appeared in Belmont County Western Division Court for a pretrial hearing Tuesday and withdrew his innocent plea.

He then pleaded no contest and was found guilty by Judge Eric Costine of fourth-degree misdemeanor hazing.

Lucas’ sentencing hearing was set for 10:30 a.m. Jan. 11.

The charge stemmed from an incident that occurred the evening of Oct. 1 during an apparent initiation of a freshman football player. The teenage victim reportedly was tied to a pole while other teens were at the site.

A truck was backed near the freshman, and Lucas and a juvenile defendant implied that a strap would be attached to him so the truck could drag him.

An unloaded crossbow also reportedly was pointed at the boy’s head.

The hazing ended when some of the participants decided it was going too far, untied the freshman and called his parents.

Lucas was represented by attorney Don Tennant. Belmont County Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Vavra represented the state.

“The maximum sentence is 30 days, and there’s no mandatory sentencing of any kind, so it’s possible he could get a probationary sentencing, too. That’ll be up to the judge,” Vavra said.

Vavra said the offense posed some physical harm as well as leaving the victim mentally and emotionally shaken.

“There was the possibility of danger, given the motor vehicle that was involved, so there was definitely a possibility of physical harm,” Vavra said.

The school district also conducted an investigation and took disciplinary action.

“I know there was definitely a suspension (for Lucas), and it was lengthy,” Vavra said.

Barnesville school Superintendent Angela Hannahs was not available to comment Wednesday on any further disciplinary action for anyone present or involved.

The district’s hazing and bullying policy can be found online at bevsd.org. It states “permission, consent or assumption of risk by an individual subjected to hazing … does not lessen the prohibition contained in this policy.” The policy stipulates disciplinary penalties including suspension and expulsion.

The other defendant is younger than 18; his case will be handled in juvenile court.

The victim’s family started the Facebook page “Brnesville Enough” — without an A in Barnesville — to raise awareness of hazing and bullying in the Barnesville area.

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