Hotel denies wrongdoing in Parkview baseball assault case

The South Carolina hotel at the center of a hazing controversy involving a Gwinnett County high school baseball team denies any wrongdoing in the incident, according to a document filed Tuesday in federal court.

One Parkview High School baseball player who alleges he was physically and sexually assaulted by older teammates during a June stay at the Hyatt Place Airport/Convention Center in North Charleston, S.C., filed a lawsuit last month against the hotel and its parent companies. The suit claimed the hotel's front desk gave the accused upperclassmen keycards to the younger players' room prior to the attack, and asked for "in excess of $500,000" in damages.

In its response filed Tuesday, Hyatt denied any liability and said “any injuries or damages sustained” by the player “are due to and caused by the sole acts or omissions of others.” The hotel chain also asks for the suit to be dismissed.

Several Parkview baseball teams were staying at the hotel June 5 while participating in a nearby tournament.

According to the lawsuit, four younger players — three 14-year-olds and one 13-year-old — were in their room when they caught wind of “unannounced visits” planned by upperclassmen. Those upperclassmen gained access to the younger players’ room, and the teen who filed the suit was “forcefully manhandled and wrestled down, held down, inappropriately touched over his body, and assaulted,” the document said.

In August, Gwinnett County Public Schools suspended all six upperclassmen implicated in the incident. At least five of those players are appealing their suspensions, which ranged from one semester to the entire 2015-16 school year.

The suspended players include one 17-year-old, one 16-year-old and four 15-year-olds.

The same player who filed the lawsuit gave statements to the North Charleston Police Department and asked for criminal charges to be filed. But the player's attorney, Kurt Hilbert, said Sept. 2 that detectives had decided not to further pursue the case.

Authorities would not confirm or deny Hilbert’s statements, citing the involvement of juveniles.

It is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s policy not to name victims of alleged sexual assault. The accused players are not identified because criminal charges have not been filed.

Parkview High School’s baseball team is the reigning state champion and considered one of the nation’s top squads.