Two senior swimmers at the Air Force Academy are facing court-martial for their role in a 2017 hazing scandal that saw 11 men removed from the team, the Air Force Times reported Saturday.
In February 2018, we reported that 11 Air Force swimmers had been removed from the team in the wake of preliminary investigations into a hazing ritual that took place in September 2017, and that nine of those swimmers were removed midway through the WAC Championships.
Cadet 1st Class Lars Knutson and Cadet 1st Class Michael Hannigan were charged Sept. 6 with the alleged violation of Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, or dereliction of duty, by “wrongfully and willfully fail[ing] to refrain from engaging in activities that constituted hazing” on September 29th, 2017.
They are each additionally charged with Article 81 of the UCMJ, “conspiring with other cadets to commit dereliction of duty on several occasions during September 2017,” and Article 134 by allegedly trying to “wrongfully impede the hazing investigation by influencing other cadets’ statements to investigators” throughout December 2017 and January 2018.
The two will have hearings at the end of September and in early October to determine whether there is probable cause to support the charges.
Hannigan and Knutson are accused of working with a number of other upperclassmen to plan and execute an event known as the “Chunker,” wherein freshman “were instructed to eat as much pasta as they could during a dinner at Olive Garden,” then “were then blindfolded and driven to the woods, where they were made to drink large quantities of milk, eat foods such as jello with mustard, and run until they vomited,” according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.
Additionally, seniors stripped naked and again blindfolded the freshman, then threatened to make them perform oral sex before revealing it was a joke. The tradition had reportedly been performed yearly for three decades.
All hazing-related issues at the Academy in the past have been handled internally, making this the first criminal hazing case in the school’s history; Knutson and Hannigan could face up to five years in jail if found guilty.
We reached out to the Air Force Athletics Department for comment, but have not heard back.