CHANDLER, AZ. — Three years after Hamilton High School's alleged hazing scandal, then 17-year-old, Nathaniel Thomas, will be tried as an adult for nine counts including sexual assault, kidnapping, child molestation.
His lawyer, Robert McWhirter, says Thomas is a scapegoat and the county should drop the case entirely. Two other students were originally charged in juvenile court while Hamilton's administration was never prosecuted.
"They had a big publicity moment and are following politics over justice. Taking the one outsider kid who was the lowest status and making him go to adult court while others had juvenile resolutions," says McWhirter.
Thomas has been on house arrest since 2017 and McWhirter says his life is unjustly in limbo.
However, the county says Thomas is responsible citing text messages according to a Chandler police report.
The texts sent from Thomas read, "I didn't try to rape you. I did rape you." and "If I get expelled from Hamilton, you're going to regret it." Thomas and his lawyer maintain his innocence. "Those are high school kids with texting bravado," says McWhirter.
As for who is responsible, McWhirter points fingers at Hamilton's administration. "There's specific state statutes that say if you don't report child abuse like these victims alleged happened, you are guilty of a crime. They have not been held accountable at all," he says.
Hamilton's former head football coach, athletic director and principal were all named in a civil suit that was later settled. McWhirter says, "I think they don't want to admit this thing is an utter failure and so they've scapegoated one final kid."
Thomas faces decades in prison if found guilty according to McWhirter. If not guilty, he'll have to pick up and try to put his life back together but even then McWhirter says he could also face a civil lawsuit.