News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015
ORANGEBURG, S.C. (WRDW) -- Attorneys for a star high school football player are not holding back in a lawsuit claiming the running back was hazed during summer camp while he was on the Allendale high school team.
"Acts that were committed against him were atrocious, and he bravely decided to speak out in hopes of illuminating this ritual and destroying the heinous culture that surrounds this football program," said attorney Fatima Zeidan, Eichholz Law Firm.
A number of Allendale-Fairfax school officials are listed on the suit filed by Shakur Chisolm's parents.
The suit claims more than a dozen upperclassmen beat him. Chisolm says when he went to Coach Eddie Ford for help, he was told to just let things go.
The lawsuit comes almost three months after the alleged hazing happened.
The attorneys say they haven't filed anything until now because, honestly, they've been waiting on the school district. But, since they've gotten no word anything will change, they say it's their job to hold the school system accountable.
The 22-page lawsuit calls on a jury to decide what happens next after running back Shakur Chisolm says he was brutally beaten by 10-15 of his teammates for being a newcomer to the Allendale-Fairfax High football team.
"I mean, these guys broke a bed on top of this young man. That is going to stick with him, and it still bothers him to this day," Lanier & Burroughs, LLC attorney and South Carolina State Representative Justin Bamberg said.
The lawsuit, filed Monday afternoon, names the school system, Superintendent Leila Williams, Coach Eddie Ford, Principal Senaca Baines, Guidance Counselor and Assistant Coach Cody Brandyburg, and South Atlantic Conference Association of Seventh Day Adventist, Inc., the housing complex where the team staying during their camp.
State law mandates the school report any criminal activities that happen at school-sponsored events. Bamberg and Zeidan say the school district did the opposite.
"Unfortunately, since we first brought this matter to your attention, the school district has seemingly turned a blind eye," Zeidan said.
"They receive a grade of F for how they have handled this situation from day one," Bamberg said.
The suit claims what happened to CHilsom was "atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized society" and that it caused "emotional distress so severe that no reasonable person could be expected to endure it."
But, with Chisolm breaking records on the football field and flourishing at his new school, Williston-Elko, some wonder how much harm it really did.
"Be not mistaken. His success on the field does not overshadow the physical and emotional abuse and injuries Shakur received," Zeidan said.
The lawsuit claims Chisolm overheard the coach ask if the teammates had gotten "enough time to get him" and when Chisolm ran away, said "Chisolm was bouncing around like a frog all day [at practice] but now he can run away from all them dudes."
Bamberg says this issue is bigger than a lawsuit.
"If it is not addressed, if things do not change, we could very well be standing here next year talking about the estate of someone's child, and that is truly tragic," Bamberg said.
SLED took over the investigation in Augusta. They're still investigating.
When News 12 reached out to the school district, Superintendent Leila Williams responded, "The Allendale County School District has not been served with a lawsuit from the parents of Shakur Chisolm. Furthermore, it is the District’s policy not to comment on pending litigation."
Bamberg and Zeidan say they're looking for compensation but also want to change the culture of the football program.
More details from the statements both attorney's made at the news conference are listed below.
Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015
ALLENDALE COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW) -- The attorneys for a high school football player announce a lawsuit against Allendale Fairfax Schools at a news conference Tuesday afternoon in Orangeburg.
Attorney Fatima Zeidan and Attorney Justin Bamberg started the press conference stating they stood on the steps of the Allendale County courthouse demanding accountability and justice for Shakur Chisolm and Demetrius Drayton Jr.
Zeidan and Bamberg said the two students were brutally hazed at Allendale Fairfax High School's football camp and informed the court system of the hazing ritual the football program instituted for freshman, transfers, and newcomers to the team.
"The hazing ritual included being beaten by 15 to 20 boys at a time the students were intentionally targeted and yourself included being thrown up against walls, knocked to the ground kicked, being hit with belts, hit with things, being humiliated, and even being beaten with boxing gloves that were allegedly supplied by members of the coaching staff to aid with the hazing ritual," Eichholz Law Firm Attorney Fatima Zeidan said.
At the news conference, Zeidan accused the school district of turning a blind eye after bringing the matter to their attention. She states they were promised an investigation and at this time, there has been no accountability and no justice, even saying there hasn't even been an apology.
Zeidan said on Monday, Shakur Chisolm's parents formally filed a lawsuit against the Allendale County school district, the administration, and members of the football coaching staff. The suit alleges several causes of action including gross negligence, battery, and assault, according to Zeidan.
A companion lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Demetrius Drayton, Jr., Zeidan said.
"Shakur, with the support of his parents has been able to navigate this situation and turn it his pain into success on the field," Zeidan said.
During the news conference Tuesday, Shakur's attorney, Fatima Zeidan, also reiterated Shakur is currently a member of the Williston-Elko High School Football team and is regarded as one of the state's leading offensive rushers, averaging 196 yards a game. Zeidan commended the coaching staff and teammates at Williston Elko for their "nurturing environment and their acceptance of Shakur into their football program".
"While Shakur had dreamed of playing football at his dream town football team, and his father's alma mater, he knew that the acts that were committed against him were atrocious and he bravely decided to speak out in hopes of illuminating this ritual and destroying the heinous culture that surrounds this football program," Fatima said.
After Zeidan spoke at the press conference, Chisolm's second attorney, Justin Bamberg, with Lanier & Burroughs and SC State Rep. House District 90 spoke to media about the suit.
"As a society, we push our student flights and I said again we push our student athletes to not just excel on the athletic field but to also excel in the classroom... how then is it acceptable, how is it okay, for a school district... for a school administration for a coaching staff to completely fail? Because that is exactly what the Allendale Fairfax High school administration and district administration have done," Bamberg said.
Bamberg gave the district an F for how they have handled the situation from day one. Bamberg said right now, SLED is investigating the hazing allegations and that investigation is on-going. He said no student should have to endure the brutal beatings Chisolm and Drayton, Jr. sustained while at football camp.
Justin Bamberg called on the school district to step up and do the right thing.
"In fact the school district, as you all may know, is mandated by state law to report certain criminal activities that occur at school-sponsored events such as a football camp or on school grounds, Bamberg said, "In fact, in this case the school district did the exact opposite."
In the complaint, it states the school superintendent in Allendale actually called Chisolm's parents while they were at the hospital and instructed them not to notify authorities of what happened, according to Bamberg.
"That is completely unacceptable. We hope to accomplish numerous things through the course of this lawsuit, of course, one point of a lawsuit is to seek compensation for wrongs that are done to individuals by others," Bamberg said Tuesday.
Bamberg adds, "this is bigger than just a lawsuit, this is bigger than just what happened to Shakur Chisholm and to Demetrius Drayton Jr." He said it's about ending a rutual that has proceeded Shakur, that many students have gone through and may not have been willing to come forward out of fear or love for their school.
"If it is not addressed, if things do not change, we could very well be standing here next year talking about the estate of someone's child.. and that is truly tragic."
News 12 will have more on the conference Tuesday night on News 12 at 5 and 6 o'clock.
Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015
ALLENDALE COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW)- Attorney's for Shakur Chisolm, will announce a lawsuit against the Allendale Fairfax Schools.
The lawsuit is also against Allendale-Fairfax High, Allendale County Superintendent Leila Williams, Athletic director and head football coach of AFHS football team Eddie Ford, Allendale-Fairfax High principal Senaca Baines, Assitant football coach Cody Bradyburg, and South Atlantic Conference Association of Seventh- Day Adventist, Inc., according to a release from the Chisolm's attorneys.
The star running back's parent's Angela Badger and Clifford Chisolm are filing a civil action suit, the release states.
According to the lawsuit filed by Chisolm's attorney's, during the week of August 3rd Chisolm was subject to a hazing ritual, with beatings resembling gang like initiation. The law suit claims Chisolm was beat with open hands, closed fists, boxing gloves, belt buckles or anything the players could find in their grasp.
It says Chisolm was beaten by 15 current players and upperclassmen simultaneously.
The suit also claims that Coach Ford and Brandyburg tried to persuade Chisolm to let things go.
The star running back was hospitalized at Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg County receiving treatment for injuries.
The suit says an Orangeburg County deputy came to the hospital to speak with Chisolm and his parents. It was during that time that Chisolm's father received a call from Superintendent Williams to not speak to law enforcement, and allow the school to investigate the incident.
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
ALLENDALE COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW) -- According to Shakur Chisolm's attorney, Justin Bamberg, Chisolm is permitted to transfer schools. Bamberg says the other victim, Demetrius Drayton Jr., is waiting for the Board of Education meeting next week to get approval for his release.
Bamberg says Chisolm's paperwork to attend Williston-Elko High School should be received by the school today. Bamberg also says Chisolm should begin school Wednesday, in addition to football.
Shakur Chisolm should be allowed to play football this year, says Bamberg. Bamberg claims the school has been telling the parents this based on the transfer policy.
News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, August 17, 2015
ALLENDALE COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW) -- The father of star running back Shakur Chisolm has confirmed his son will attend and play football for Williston-Elko High School his senior year.
He is now waiting on Allendale County to send over his school records so he can attend class.
Chisolm claims he was hazed during an initiation beat down during the football summer camp for Allendale-Fairfax High.
Families of the two victims who have come forward, Shakur Chisolm and Demetrius Drayton Jr., filed reports with the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office last week. SLED has now taken over the investigation.
Just four days away from their first game of the season, the AF Tigers are battling allegations of hazing at their football summer camp.
"What was mean to be a bonding experience turned brutal," attorney Fatima Zeidan said at the news conference last week.
Last Thursday, attorneys Fatima Zeidan and Justin Bamberg stood on the courthouse steps describing the alleged beat down and calling for head coach Eddie Ford to resign.
Ever since, it's been the talk of the town. On the local radio station WDOG, a caller asked where Shakur Chisolm was going.
The radio host replied, "He's not playing for Allendale-Fairfax that's for sure."
Most locals are standing by their team. Some are even making shirts with #TigerStrong.
"I'm pretty sure this is something they've been doing for years. It's nothing new," Allendale native William Gillyard said. "I don't want them to suffer. They're kids. They do kid stuff."
Players say the hazing happened at the football camp the week of August 3rd, but the two victims speaking out didn't file a report until August 12th.
The one Demetrius Drayton filed that day says he was "in the basement" when "a group of males . . . began to assault him."
Gillyard is waiting to hear what the investigation finds, but he says come Friday, he hopes this controversy doesn't make it onto the football field.
"I got a grand-nephew on the team. I want them to do well, and I want this matter to be settled so we can just move on and have a good season," Gillyard said.
News 12 has repeatedly tried to get in contact with the Superintendent Leila Williams to find out where Coach Ford stands ahead of their first game of the season, but she has not answered our calls or e-mails and was not in her office when we stopped by.
The Offensive Coordinator for Allendale-Fairfax High School tells News 12 the head coach, Eddie Ford, was not at practice but was at school today. The offensive coordinator would not say anything further on the head coach's status at the school.
Monday, August 17, 2015
ORANGEBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW) -- The attorneys for Shakur Chisolm, one of the victims of the alleged hazing incident, Rep. Justin Bamberg and Fatima Zeidan, released a statement on Monday in regard to the investigation of the alleged hazing incident:
'We have yet to receive official word from any representatives from the Allendale-Fairfax school district regarding personnel decisions that may have been made regarding the status of the school's head football coach Eddie Ford. Last week, we called for his immediate resignation. As of today, we are not aware of any action that has taken place.
We have learned that South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) will take over the criminal investigation into the hazing incidents.
Shakur Chisolm will attend school and play football for Williston-Elko High School during his senior year. Demetrius Drayton has withdrawn from Allendale-Fairfax High School and will attempt to enroll in a school in a nearby district for his sophomore year. He must first be released from the Allendale-Fairfax School District at next week's board meeting before he is able to continue his education. We are hopeful that each of these students will have a smooth transition as they begin the next chapter of their lives.'
Monday, August 17, 2015
ORANGEBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW) -- According to the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office, the Sheriff's Office turned over the investigation to SLED on Monday. According to the incident reports, at least two victims claim they were victims of alleged hazing incidents. The reports state both confirmed victims were taken to the hospital because of their injuries.
Friday, August 14, 2015
ORANGEBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW) -- An incident report for the second victim of the alleged hazing incidents provides new information on what both victims allege took place. According the incident report, Demetrius Drayton, Jr. told deputies he was assaulted at the football camp for Allendale-Fairfax football team on August 6 at 11:30 a.m.
In the report, Drayton alleges a group from the football team began to assault him by physically hitting him with their personal weapons, possible boxing gloves, and belts. The report also states Drayton also thinks he was kicked in the head, all as part of an initiation onto the football team. Multiple others were also assaulted, according to Drayton in the report.
Drayton says the head coach of the football team is the person who started the assault, according to the incident report. The report later state Drayton told deputies he was taken to Allendale County hospital at a later date and was treated for injuries.
News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, August 13, 2015
ALLENDALE COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW) -- We're finally getting our hands on the first written document detailing what a player says happened at a school-sponsored football camp.
Running back Shakur Chisolm says he was beaten twice that week by his own teammates and the coaches let them do it.
Today, we're getting our first look at the incident report after the family files a formal complaint.
The three page incident report is the first document describing what may have happened at a football camp the week of August 3rd.
The report wasn't filed until Wednesday, August 12.
In an e-mail, the Sheriff's Office says that's because the family waited "to see if the school district would pursue action first."
"We demand accountability. Not our kids. Not today," attorney Fatima Zeidan said at the news conference Wednesday.
News 12 talked to Superintendent Leila Williams earlier this week.
When asked at what point law enforcement should get involved, she said, "At the point that we determine the level of the infractions. Some levels may be just general or it may get to that point where we need to ourselves contact them."
Shakur Chisolm was a transfer from Barnwell. He says his new teammates crossed the line at camp.
"The students were thrown up against a wall, knocked to the ground, hit with belts, beaten with fists, cursed at, humiliated, and in some cases, the students were actually beaten with boxing gloves that were provided to the students by the coaching staff," Zeidan said.
The report says Chisolm overheard the coach ask his teammates "Did y'all get him yet" as he was hiding in a closet. At one point, he even ran to the coaches' door for help.
"He was simply told to go back to bed. His cries for help went ignored," Zeidan said.
It's a story that's hard to hear, but when News 12 asked if Shakur participated in the hazing of his other teammates, his attorneys did not say no.
"The only thing that I will say on that is there's a lot of work that needs to be done. We're talking about something that went on all week long," attorney and State Rep Justin Bamberg said. "These kids were acting with express permission, authority, and blessing from adults."
Wednesday, Bamberg and Zeidan called for head coach Eddie Ford to resign. News 12 reached out to the coach, even going up to the school, but he was not there and has not returned any of our calls.
At the news conference Wednesday, the attorneys said the alleged hazing is a ritual that had been going on all week and not just to Shakur.
Another player, Demetrius Drayton, says it happened to him, too.
Zeidan says one player actually ran away from camp earlier that week to "flee the beatings."
Wednesday, August 13, 2015
ORANGEBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW) -- An incident report provides new details about an alleged hazing event at a high school football camp.
According to the report, on August 7, an Orangeburg County Sheriff's Deputy responded to The Regional Medical Center for a report of an assault. The responding deputy says he spoke to the victim's father, Clifford Chisolm Sr., who told him his son was the victim of the assault at a football camp for Allendale-Fairfax High School.
In the incident report, it states the victim told his father he was assaulted by 30 to 40 males as part of an initiation onto the football team. The incident report also states the victim told his father that he tried to hide because he felt like the assault was not for fun, but because some of the guys did not like him. The father also told the responding deputy his son told him he went out of hiding, and tried to tell the football coach what had happened, but the suspects began to chase him again.
After hiding the second time, the victim allegedly overheard the football coach asking the suspects, "Did y'all get him yet," according to the report.
The incident report states Chisolm, Sr. told the responding deputy the school system's superintendent told him not to contact law enforcement until the school board could speak with his son, and his family about moving forward with any actions. The report also states he wanted to talk to the superintendent as well before the family pursued any report or potential charges.
News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, August 12, 2015
ALLENDALE, S.C.-- A star running back says 15-20 of his teammates beat him and the coaches did nothing to stop it.
It's a story News 12 first aired Tuesday when the Superintendent Leila Williams said only she and the principal of Allendale-Fairfax High were investigating.
Today, Shakur Chisolm's attorneys called a news conference as a direct result of News 12's investigation.
They described an alleged brutal beating at a camp that was supposed to be about bonding.
Standing on the courthouse steps, attorneys Justin Bamberg and Fatima Zeidan tell the story of an alleged hazing ritual, one they say has been going on at Allendale-Fairfax High for years.
"In some cases, these students were pulled from their beds out of a basement. The lights were turned off, and the beatings began," Zeidan said.
They say freshmen, new students, and transfer football players all had to endure being thrown up against a wall, knocked to the ground and beaten with boxing gloved allegedly provided by the coaching staff.
Zeidan compared it to a "gang-like initiation."
"That's a life that many in Allendale County and surrounding areas have struggled to get away from. In our area, sports is seen as a way out, and unfortunately in this case, it wasn't," Zeidan said of her beloved hometown and alma mater.
The young player speaking out is star running back Shakur Chisolm. His father took the podium for him Wednesday.
"This is not what Allendale-Fairfax Tigers are about. They're not about this. We're about winning that's why I brought my son here," father Cliff Chisolm said about the school he used to play for.
Now Chisolm, a player recruited by several major universities, has withdrawn from Allendale-Fairfax and is awaiting eligibility rules to figure out where he'll go next and if he'll play his senior year.
The attorneys hope no matter where Chisolm ends up, head coach Eddie Ford will step down.
They asked "that Coach Ford as head coach of the Allendale-Fairfax football program resign immediately."
Chisolm's father says his son was beaten twice during the week of football camp earlier this month, and when he got a 3 a.m. phonecall from his son, he jumped in the car to come to his rescue.
"I had to drive an hour away, so he had to deal with that torture until I got there," his father said.
"Let me just say this," attorney Justin Bamberg said. "There is a lawsuit coming. There is no question about that."
I reached out to several of the coaches and the Superintendent again to get their response to these allegations.
At the news conference the attorneys say during one of the alleged beatings, Chisolm got away, ran to the coaches' room and banged on the door so hard it cracked.
His attorneys say the coach just told him to go back to bed.
The only odd part is why there is no report.
The attorneys say an officer did come to the hospital the night Chisolm was getting treatment, but we don't have permission to get hospital records.
When News 12 requested a report from Orangeburg Public Safety, they said they didn't have one.
The family said they planned to go to the Sheriff's Office to file a formal complaint with the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office Wednesday. We're still waiting to hear if that actually happened.