Seven Sayreville (New Jersey) War Memorial High School students are facing charges for allegedly sexually hazing freshmen. The players apparently turned the lights off in the locker room and sexually assaulted the victims, CNN reported Sunday.
Six of players were taken into custody. Their names have not been revealed since they are all minors, the (Newark) Star-Ledger reported. The defendants range in age from 15 to 17.
Three players were charged Friday with conspiracy to commit aggravated criminal sexual contact, aggravated criminal sexual contact, aggravated sexual assault, criminal restraint and hazing for engaging in an act of sexual penetration, CNN said.
Four other students, plus one of the first three, face counts of aggravated criminal sexual contact, conspiracy, aggravated assault, hazing and riot for allegedly participating in the attack, Middlesex County prosecutors said.
It’s unknown if the team’s two team captains, Myles Hartsfield and Dylan Thillet, were involved in the alleged incidents, the Star-Ledger reported. Penn State has offered Hartsfield a full scholarship.
Superintendent Richard Labbe suspended the football season because of the allegations. "There were incidents of harassment, intimidation that took place on a pervasive level, in which the players knew, tolerated and in general accepted," Labbe said in a statement.
He said the board of education "takes this matter extremely seriously and thus will continue to make the safety and welfare of our students, particularly the victims of these horrendous alleged acts, our highest priority."
The younger students allegedly were harassed on four occasions. From Sept. 19 to Sept. 29, one or more of the teens "held the victims against their will, while other juvenile defendants improperly touched the juvenile victims in a sexual manner," Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey and Sayreville Police Chief John Zebrowski said in a statement.
One of the victims was allegedly penetrated. Specific details have not been released, but Sports Illustrated said the acts most likely did not involve intercourse.
The allegations have apparently torn the community apart, with one parent telling Deadspin it was “sickening.” Some of the upperclassmen would reportedly stand as lookouts while the others harassed the victim.
“Not only to hear the description, but to see these freshmen that are in the locker room or these other kids that don't want to be bothered with that stuff in the locker room, and just think if my son or somebody else's son wanted to leave … they couldn't leave because there was somebody at the door there,” the parent said. “I could see the kids saying, 'You're not going nowhere until this is over.' It's just like being in a bad dream, you know?"
If the allegations are true, it’s horrific,” David McGill, a borough councilman and a retired New York City police officer, told the Star-Ledger. “This town needs to be focused on healing.”
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