‘Hazing’ sentences conclude


News staff writer

October 11, 2006

The 11th and final case against a Hood River Valley High School student involved in a “birthday hazing” that severely injured the teenage victim was legally resolved on Monday.

Ruben Mendoza Uvalle, 17, pleaded guilty to second-degree Attempted Assault, a Class C felony. He was the sixth teenager to chance a visit to adult court that could have landed him in prison for 70 months.

However, Prosecutor Carrie Rasmussen chose not to take a hard line on the students choosing that route. Instead of going to trial, she granted Uvalle and his peers a final opportunity to plead down to a lesser charge. In addition to Uvalle, the following individuals took her up on that offer: Cruz Bolanos Guzman, 18, Armando Luz Barbosa, 17, Francisco Javier Campos-Chavarria, 17, Herman Cornejo, 17, and Juan Quintana Rogue, 17.

Four teens admitted guilt in juvenile court to the May 25 beating of a 16-year-old male peer. A grand jury dismissed the charges against another person.

Although the sentences of those tried in adult and juvenile court varied slightly, Rasmussen said there were common denominators. For example, all of the youth were ordered by Judge Donald Hull to perform 120 hours of community service, obtain some type of anger management counseling, and have his/her actions closely monitored for 24 months.

They will all pay almost $4,000 to cover the 16-year-old victim’s medical bills. All of the involved parties have been ordered to stay away from each other and have no direct contact with either the victim or his family. Each offender also has to write an essay about how he/she could have handled the situation differently.

“Do you understand the seriousness of the attack? You came close to taking someone’s life,” said Hull to Uvalle at the Oct. 9 hearing. “This is not a light matter; it’s a very serious matter. So, the next time I hope you think before you act.”

In retrospect, Rasmussen wishes that she had included the reading of Lord of the Flies by William Golding as a court condition. She said that text clearly outlines that “good kids can go bad when they act as a group.” She said regardless of whether the 10 offenders participated in the actual beating of the victim, or just cheered from the sidelines, they were responsible for the outcome.

“Many of these juveniles came from very good families and acted in a manner that was uncharacteristic of each as an individual,” she said. “It’s almost as if the group itself became an individual with an amazing strength that caused serious consequences.”

Ramussen read a statement written by the victim’s mother to Uvalle, as she had all of the other offenders. It outlined how his life was saved by a five-hour emergency surgery to repair internal damages, and how emaciated he had become from subsisting on a mostly liquid diet — with his future health uncertain.

According to reports, the group of Latino students had intended the incident as a “cultural rite of passage.” However, what began as a few light-hearted punches to celebrate a birthday quickly got out of hand.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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