Chandler PD: Charges recommended against former Hamilton HS coach, principal in hazing case

Posted at 3:35 PM, Jul 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-26 09:52:38-04

Newly released court documents show the Chandler Police Department is recommending charges against the former head coach and against the current principal at Hamilton High School in a hazing scandal reported earlier this year.

Court documents show Chandler police say former coach Steve Belles failed to report several sexual hazing acts that he was notified about involving student athletes. The reported assaults were allegedly performed on student athletes between September 2016 and February 10, 2017.

According to a police report, several student athletes claim that in team meetings, Belles specifically referenced hazing acts, saying, "stop raping each other" and "don't do sexual things to each other." Belles reportedly told the players they would be removed from the football team if the incidents didn't stop.

The report also says the Hamilton principal, Ken James, failed to report the incidents to authorities after he was contacted by a set of parents who told him about a sexual assault involving student athletes.

James told police that he felt he could conduct interviews with juvenile children regarding sexual offenses, despite not having any formal training to do so.

On another occasion, an anonymous caller left a message reporting players being harassed in the locker room. James then conducted interviews with four juveniles and did not notify their parents. At least one of the juveniles interviewed allegedly told James that their clothes were forcibly removed by other players.

After the interviews, James forwarded the complaints to Coach Belles, telling him to “address the behavior with the team,” but the incidents were not immediately reported to authorities.


Court documents state 17-year-old Nathaniel Thomas, a former student athlete, is facing three counts of kidnapping, three counts of aggravated assault, two counts of molestation, and one count of sexual assault.


Belles' attorney told ABC15 that the coach did address his players about sexual harassment but was doing so in a general sense after an incident he said happened at another Valley high school. He said he knew nothing of the alleged sexual assaults that happened in his own locker room. He said Belles would never condone any activity that would harm any of the players. He said the former football coach was unaware of any incidents that caused harm to his own students. 

According to court paperwork, there were four victims, all under 15 years of age at the time of the incidents.
A third party reportedly alerted police to the crimes.

The Maricopa County’s Attorney’s Office will now review the charges recommended against Belles and James from the Chandler Police Department.

Stay with ABC15 and for the latest on this developing situation.