Four former Mount Carmel High School football players have been sentenced for their involvement in hazing incidents that occurred in 2020. Reed Witkoski, 20, and Damon Dowkus, 21, both team captains, pleaded no contest to Hazing, Simple Assault, and Recklessly Endangering Another Person. Tyler Owens, 21, pleaded guilty to Hazing and Criminal Conspiracy, while Michael Balichik, 21, will enter the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program on charges of Hazing and Criminal Conspiracy.
Witkoski and Dowkus received one year of probation and were ordered to pay prosecution costs and a $50 fine. Owens was sentenced to nine months of probation and also ordered to pay prosecution costs and a $50 fine. Attorney General Michelle Henry emphasized the severity of hazing and its potential consequences, stating that those who intentionally cause harm will be held accountable.
The investigation began after a referral from the Northumberland County District Attorney’s Office regarding allegations of hazing among members of the Mount Carmel High School football team in 2020. The inquiry disclosed two separate incidents in which new starting players were intentionally burned with lit burning sticks and sparklers during informal initiation ceremonies at football captain Reed Witkoski’s house. Juveniles charged in connection with the incidents were addressed in juvenile court.
Senior Deputy Attorney General Joseph Sembrot is prosecuting the case.