- Two leaders on the Air Force Academy’s swim team face criminal charges stemming from a hazing incident.
- Freshmen were forced to binge pasta, chug then vomit gallons of milk and were threatened with forced oral sex.
- The incident marks the first time in the academy’s history that criminal charges will be filed for hazing.
One of the cadets is the captain of the swim team; the other, a first-team all-Western Athletic Conference swimmer. Both celebrated members of the Air Force Academy’s swim team now face criminal charges in what amounts to the worst hazing incident in the Academy’s 64-year history.
In a reported decades-old ritual that took place last fall, new members of the Air Force Academy’s swim team were allegedly forced to binge all-you-can-eat pasta, chug milk and run until they vomited – a rite known as ‘The Chunker.’ According to an investigation conducted by the Colorado Springs Gazette, the upperclassmen’s lascivious acts get even worse.
At one point in the evening, which allegedly took place on Sept. 29, 2017, the freshmen swimmers were blindfolded and forced to their knees as upperclassmen removed their clothing. The upperclassmen reportedly threatened forced oral sex, before pulling their pants back up and claiming it was all a joke. No sexual assault has been reported, but according to the Gazette the incident prompted one of the freshmen to report the hazing to an academy official.
Hazing is typically handled in non-judicial administrative proceedings. Perhaps a testament to the gravity of this allgeged incident, two of the cadets involved face criminal charges. If found guilty, swim team captain Michael Hannigan and swimming star Lars Knutson cound spend up to five years in prison on what amounts to a felony conviction.
The Gazette reported up to 10 cadets may have been involved, though only two face criminal charges. The decision to take them to court martial has raised eyebrows; despite a long history of hazing, the academy usually chooses to discipline its cadets in-house.
In a very public turn of events, swimmers were pulled out of the pool during the Western Athletic Conference championships in February and suspended from the team, reports the Gazette. An upcoming hearing, known as an Article 32 in the military justice system, will determine if there is sufficient evidence to take the cadets to court martial.
In a news release, the academy stated “it must be emphasized that charges are merely accusations, and the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.”