Christian college football players charged with trying to sodomize a freshman and leaving him naked in a park plead not guilty

A hazing incident has led to charges of aggravated battery, mob action and unlawful restraint

Wheaton College football players have pleaded not guilty to brutally hazing a freshman by trying to sodomize him, stripping him and beating him up.

Wheaton College students Kyler Kregel, Benjamin Pettway, Samuel Tebos and Noah Spielman have been charged with aggravated battery, mob action and unlawful restraint after allegedly entering a freshman's room, duct-taping his wrists and ankles, putting a pillowcase over his head, punching him in the ribs, trying to sodomize him with an object, and dumping him half-naked in a park off-campus.

The freshman teammate, who withdrew from Wheaton and now attends a school in another state, said he tore both his shoulders in the ordeal. He has since had three surgeries as part of his recovery.

The mugshots of the five students charged – a fifth student, James Cooksey, is due in court next month

He told investigators that after he was abducted and bound up in a car, the players played Middle Eastern music and joked they were Muslims who wanted to have sex with goats, patting his foot and suggesting the freshman would be the goat.

The freshman added his teammates continued to restrain him as they pulled down his underwear, then attempted to insert an object in his anus. Investigators heard how he shouted at them to stop and was beaten up, left with bruises and scratches.

Each count of aggravated battery carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, while the charges of mob action and unlawful restraint could lead to three years and a fine of $25,000. A fifth player, James Cooksey, is due in court next month.

In a statement to the Chicago Tribune, the student said: "This has had a devastating effect on my life. What was done to me should never occur in connection with a football program or any other activity. … I am confident that the criminal prosecution will provide a fair and just punishment to the men who attacked me."

"We have all seen situations where young men have engaged in foolish and immature behavior," the student's attorney Terry Ekl said. "What was done to our client goes far beyond what is acceptable behavior or which can be dismissed as merely harmless hazing. We are hopeful Wheaton College will learn from this incident, and subsequent criminal investigation and charges, and may not in the future condone this type of conduct."

A rep for the university said: "The conduct we discovered as a result of our investigation into this incident was entirely unacceptable and inconsistent with the values we share as human beings and as members of an academic community that espouses to live according to our Community Covenant."

The case continues.