Claim: AFHS football players beaten during hazing ritual

  • Attorneys Justin Bamberg and Fatima Zeidan (center) speak at a press conference August 12 on the steps of the Allendale County Courthouse. Standing behind them are Allendale-Fairfax High School football players Shakur Chisolm and Demitrius Drayton and their families who allege the students were beaten last week at football camp as part of a hazing ritual for new students.

Two Allendale-Fairfax High School football players have obtained lawyers after claiming they were beaten during a “brutal hazing incident” at last week’s football camp.

Shakur Chisolm, a star running back, recently transferred to AFHS from Barnwell High School to play his senior year at his father’s alma mater. However, the experience was not what he expected as he alleges he was among a group of students beaten during football camp. Dimitrius Drayton is another student who has come forward also claiming to have been beaten.

Joined by Chisolm, Drayton and their families during an August 12 press conference on the steps of the Allendale County Courthouse, Fatima Zeidan, one of the lawyers representing the teens, called the acts “disturbing, unlawful and quite frankly heartbreaking.”

The acts allegedly occurred the week of August 3 while more than 50 players were at a pre-season football camp in Orangeburg. Zeidan said the week was supposed to be a time of bonding for the teammates, however, the situation evolved into a physical beating over a span of two days that caused Chisolm to seek medical attention.

“They were deliberate acts to degrade freshmen, new students and transfers,” said Zeidan.

Those acts, allegedly committed by 15 to 20 upperclassmen at night with the lights off, involved being pulled out of bed, shoved against walls, kicked, hit with belts, and punched with boxing gloves allegedly provided by coaches. Zeidan said these claims were confirmed by several other students.

Shakur Chisolm sought out the help of coaches, but “safety is not what he found,” said Zeidan of how coaches told him to go back to bed. Chisolm hid in a room but was later found by teammates who continued the beating until one teammate decided it was time to stop.

After contacting his family, Chisolm was taken to the Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg with cuts, scrapes and bruises. An officer with Orangeburg Department of Public Safety came to the hospital and interviewed Chisolm. While an incident report has not been filed, the two teens and their families planned to file a formal complaint with the department after the press conference, according to Justin Bamberg, another attorney involved in the case. He is also a state representative, but does not represent Allendale County.

This case may not be an isolated incident as there are claims this has happened in previous years. Zeidan said this is another case of bad leadership being exhibited in her hometown and is ruining what should be a positive outlet for youth. “Unfortunately, this hazing ritual seems to be part of the football program,” said Zeidan.

Bamberg said he hopes the students will not be ridiculed and criticized for standing up for what is right. He said if they don’t stand up, then he could be on the courthouse steps next year giving a press conference in response to a student’s death or paralysis.

While football players are looked at as “gridiron warriors”, Bamberg said it’s important to remember the players are also someone’s children. “Let’s be warriors of truth,” he said.

Cliff Chisolm, Shakur’s father, said his son became a target. “I want justice.”

Though some people are destroying the legacy of Allendale-Fairfax High School, Cliff Chisolm said, “This is not what Allendale-Fairfax is about.”

He encourages parents of other students involved, both victims and alleged instigators, to “please come forward and stop this.”

Bamberg said the family tried to discuss the matter with the school’s administration, but were told leaders could not meet without their legal representation.

Bamberg and Zeidan are asking that a full investigation into the hazing incident be conducted by an independent third party, such as the S.C. High School League (SCHSL), an organization that rules and regulates high school athletics in South Carolina.

When asked if they were investigating the claims, SCHSL spokesperson Tammie Newman said their organization only gets involved at the request of a school, which has not happened yet.

Messages left for Allendale County Schools Superintendent Leila Williams and AFHS Principal Senaca Baines were unreturned as of press time.

In addition to a full investigation, Bamberg said he wants Coach Eddie Ford to resign “because this occurred under his watch with his overt blessing.”

Bamberg said they plan to file a lawsuit soon.

Chisolm, who has been recruited by Clemson University and other big names in college football, is planning on withdrawing from Allendale-Fairfax and will soon determine where he will attend school and whether or not he will play football his senior year. It’s unclear of Drayton’s plans.

“He would love to play football his senior year,” said Bamberg of Chisolm.