KENMORE, Wash. — A Kenmore mother expressed anger Thursday after she says her 17-year-old son was assaulted in a high school hazing ritual.
Sara Walvatne’s son, James, had told her about the “Naked Vikings,” an unofficial group that dressed up and cheered at Inglemore High School football games. He said they were some of the most popular kids at the school.
“The thing is, James really wanted to be in this club,” she said in an interview. “It was a badge of honor to cheer on the team for Inglemoor.”
According to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, James and six other high school juniors were taken to a field in nearby Bothell late Monday night for an initiation into the group.
“We were woken up in the middle of the night and it sounded like someone was staple-gunning someone,” said Bothell resident Jeannie Collier, who lives near the field. “It was really loud.”
“They brought out PVC pipes, golf clubs with the end cut off,” Walvatne added.
James did not want to talk on camera, but he did show the welts on his back. His mother is trying to convince him to get medical care for them.
“That’s what they call initiation,” she said sarcastically. “Violence is not initiation, in my opinion. It’s assault.”
A Northshore School District spokesman said the district has a zero tolerance policy on hazing, and they will not allow the “Naked Vikings” on campus again. He said the district is cooperating with Snohomish County sheriff’s investigators, who have identified five 18-year-olds as potential suspects.
But no charges have been filed, and James’ mother is concerned they may not be because her son and the other victims are not willing to testify against their friends. Her family is trying to convince James to change his mind.
“We just want him to do the right thing. I mean, he was beat, he was beat up, brutally assaulted. That’s what I keep telling him: How could those be your friends?”