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Police: High school cheerleaders suspended for hazing incident in Utah

Nine Utah high school cheerleaders are accused of smearing peanut butter on a new squad member who has a peanut allergy during the hazing of a dozen younger girls, police officials say.

Ogden Police Lt. Scott Conley said the nine cheerleaders at Ogden High School have been suspended in the May 4 incident. A separate investigation will determine if any other students provoked the treatment of the girls, he said.

During the alleged hazing, the cheerleading group was surrounded by at least 30 other classmates, mostly boys, Conley told msnbc.com.

“I don’t have the exact number of how many were watching, but in this age of cellphones someone was recording it,” Conley said.

Conley said investigators were trying to determine if the incident fits the crime of hazing, a misdemeanor offense. Parents of the victims have refused to press charges, but Conley said it was not up to them to decide and that the investigation continues. He said the teens involved are minors and the case would be handled in juvenile court.

Conley said nine senior class cheerleaders invited 12 incoming members to an Ogden home for a pizza party, but took the younger girls to a local park to celebrate earning a position on the squad. There, the senior cheerleaders blindfolded the girls and ordered them to do push-ups, sit-ups and other exercises while covering them with ketchup, mustard, flour and peanut butter, he said.

“During the course of all this, the blindfolded cheerleaders were also squirted with a liquid that was initially reported as being urine,” Conley said. “But we haven’t been able to determine that, but now some are saying that the liquid was pickle juice.”

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Conley said the girl with the peanut allergy suffered a reaction and was treated, but has recovered.

School officials said the senior cheerleaders were suspended for between one to five days, depending on their involvement.

"We want all of our students to know that we want them to not only get an education in our district, but also enjoy other activities, and have a great, whole school experience," Ogden School District spokeswoman Donna Corby told the Salt Lake Tribune. "In my opinion, this has clouded the experience for our incoming sophomores, and I feel badly about that."

Attempt by msnbc.com to contact Corby was unsuccessful on Thursday.

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