The four members of the Chadron State College wrestling team kicked off the squad, expelled from school, and arrested in an alleged hazing incident have all reached plea agreements to enter a pre-trial diversion program that could expunge their records in 6 months.
24-year-old Luke Zeiger, 22-year-old Cooper Cogdill, 21-year-old Chance Helmick, and 21-year-old Willie Cogdill, all of Chadron, had pleaded Not Guilty to a pair of misdemeanors, Hazing and 3rd-Degree Assault, and requested jury trials.
Special prosecutor Jamian Simmons says the charges against the four will be dropped if they meet conditions set out in the agreement that include 20 hours of community service.
County Judge Randin Roland of Sidney told each of the four as their case came up that he was setting a status hearing for them in June, but that if they completed the diversion program as he expected, that appearance would be cancelled.
The case began in September after a short video appeared on Snapchat showed a wrestler snorting salt and taking a drink, then allowing himself to be punched in the face by Helmick before raising his arms amid cheers in the background.
Chadron police spent more than 4 weeks investigating the alleged off-campus incident. The final report was submitted to Simmons, who made the decision to file formal charges, with arrest warrants and served the next morning.
Zeiger, Helmick, and the Cogdill brothers were kicked off the wrestling team and expelled from Chadron State for violations of Chadron State and Nebraska State College System policies, team rules, and the directions of Wrestling Coach Brett Hunter.
Simmons says that, given the facts of the case, she believes allowing the four to enter the diversion program is the best result for all parties.
After Judge Roland accepted the diversion agreements, the 3 attorneys representing the 4 ex-wrestlers asked that their bonds be reduced from 10% of $10,000 to 10% of $2,500. Roland granted the request and the release of $750 to each of the four.
All were expected to be leaders on the CSC wrestling team this year with Helmick and Cooper Cogdill defending Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference champions and Helmick the Eagles’ only qualifier for the NCAA national tournament last winter.