KALISPELL - A police investigation is underway regarding alleged sexual assault incidents involving members of the Glacier High School wrestling team.
Kalispell Police Captain Ryan Bartholomew said law enforcement was made aware of the allegations on Jan. 9.
Bartholomew said more than 15 interviews have taken place regarding the matter, and more interviews may follow.
A cease-and-desist Letter/Tort Claim directed to Kalispell School District officials from Bliven Law Firm in Kalispell said the alleged assaults were caused by a culture and tradition of hazing at Glacier High School and its wrestling program.
Attorney Michael Bliven tells MTN News he is representing several clients in the case, saying the alleged assaults took place on school buses and hotel stays going back to last year.
The tort claim asks for the suspension of the Glacier High School head wrestling coach and the school’s activities director while the investigation continues.
The claim asks the school district to provide preservation of evidence related to these incidents including video from alleged school bus assaults and more.
In a statement to MTN News, attorney Michael Bliven said:
"We believe reporting is being suppressed, and the victims are not being appropriately supported. Abuse victims, particularly children, should be supported in reporting and prompt, full remedial measures taken while an investigation is ongoing. We believe the District has acted with deliberate indifference to the victims, not only by failing to enforce policies and allowing assaults to happen, but in handling the reports of assault and abuse and taking prompt remedial action and supporting the victims."
Kalispell School District Superintendent Micah Hill provided the following statement to MTN News:
"On Jan. 9, we were made aware of alleged misconduct involving some of our students that reportedly took place last school year. As soon as we learned about this incident, we immediately started an internal investigation, which included reaching out to the students involved and their parents. At the same time, we learned a police investigation into the matter was underway."
"The high school, with the support of its Board and the district, have taken – and will continue to take – disciplinary action in line with our policies and Montana law."
"Because of privacy concerns and the ongoing investigation, we are unable to share additional details. We continue to cooperate fully with law enforcement and connect with our students to ensure they have the support they need. We remain committed to providing a respectful, safe and supportive learning environment for our students."
"We are aware of public conversations, including media reports, that are spreading rumors and misinformation around this matter. This gossip is helpful to no one, most especially our students, and we ask our community to let the investigation move forward unimpeded. We look forward to a swift resolution to this matter."
Bartholomew said all students and school district staff involved in the investigation are cooperating with law enforcement.
MTN News will have more on this story as the investigation continues.