Monday, April 10, 2023

Former Mount Carmel Football Players Plead Guilty to Charges for 2020 Hazing Incidents

Attorney General Michelle Henry announced Monday that four former Mount Carmel High School football players pleaded guilty to charges related to their involvement in 2020 hazing incidents.
Team captains Reed Witkoski, 20, and Damon Dowkus, 21, pleaded no contest to Hazing, Simple Assault, and Recklessly Endangering Another Person; Tyler Owens, 21, pleaded guilty to Hazing and Criminal Conspiracy; and Michael Balichik, 21, will enter the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program on the charges of Hazing and Criminal Conspiracy.

Witkoski and Dowkus were each sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to pay the costs of prosecution, plus a $50 fine. Owens was sentenced to nine months of probation and ordered to pay the costs of prosecution, plus a $50 fine.

“Hazing is a serious offense that can have devastating consequences,” said AG Henry. “The victims in this case wanted nothing more than to feel a part of a team and the positive experiences that come along with that. Young people should think seriously about the effects of their actions, as anyone who intentionally causes harm to other individuals will be held accountable.”

Following a referral from the Northumberland County District Attorney’s Office, the Office of Attorney General began an investigation into allegations of hazing that occurred among members of the Mount Carmel High School football team in 2020.

The investigation revealed that, in two separate incidents, football players were invited to football captain Reed Witkoski’s house to watch game footage. During the watch party, football captains Witkoski and Damon Dowkus — along with another captain who was a juvenile at the time, and other members of the team — intentionally burned the new starting players with lit burning sticks and sparklers as part of an informal initiation.

The juveniles charged in connection with this incident were addressed in juvenile court.

This matter is being prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Joseph Sembrot.