Final Wheaton College football player turns self in to police

SUN-TIMES MEDIA WIRE - The last of five members of the Wheaton College football team facing felony charges for allegedly hazing another team member in 2016 has turned himself in to police.

Arrest warrants were issued earlier this week for James W. Cooksey, 22, of Jacksonville, Florida; Samuel J. Tebos, 22, of Allendale, Michigan; Kyler S. Kregel, 21, of Grand Rapids, Michigan; Benjamin Pettway, 21, of Lookout Mount, Georgia; and Noah R. Spielman, 21, of Columbus, Ohio, according to the city of Wheaton.

Kregel and Spielman turned themselves in on Tuesday, and Pettway and Tebos turned themselves in on Thursday, according to a city spokesman. Cooksey turned himself in on Friday.

Spielman is the son of former Ohio State and NFL player, and current FOX Sports NFL analyst Chris Spielman.

The players’ charges are aggravated battery, unlawful restraint and mob action, according to the city. They were all released on $50,000 bonds, according to the DuPage County sheriff’s office. All five were scheduled for an initial court appearance at 9 a.m. Oct. 23 at DuPage County Criminal Court in Wheaton.

Police were first called about 11:20 p.m. March 19, 2016, to Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, where the victim said he was seriously injured when the five players attacked him and left him in a field with his limbs secured with duct tape, according to the city.

Wheaton College spokeswoman LaTonya Taylor said in an emailed statement that the college strives to provide an educational environment that is free of hazing and “practices our values as a Christian community,” and was therefore “deeply troubled” by the accusations.

Taylor said the college took “swift action” to investigate the allegations after the incident was brought to administrators’ attention by other football team members and coaches.

The school hired an independent, third-party investigator to look into the accusations and took “a range of corrective actions,” Taylor said. The college withheld the details of the corrective actions, citing federal student privacy protections.

That discipline included one-game suspensions and community service.

“The conduct we discovered as a result of our investigation into this incident was entirely unacceptable and inconsistent with the values we share as human beings and as members of an academic community that espouses to live according to our Community Covenant,” Taylor said. “We are profoundly saddened that any member of our community could be mistreated in any way.”

But attorney Mark Sutter, who is representing Spielman, said his client was “frustrated” and “disappointed” by the felony charges being filed.

“This is something that has been lingering for over a year and a half,” Sutter said at a news conference, adding the case had been “handled internally” following investigations by the school and the NCAA.

“I certainly anticipate a not-guilty verdict, or some type of resolution that makes sense for all parties,” Sutter said.

Kregel’s attorney, Christine Field, said he “will definitely enter a plea of not guilty” at an Oct. 23 arraignment hearing.

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