- Six of seven teens charged are taken into custody
- Upperclassmen allegedly turned off the locker room lights, howled and abused freshmen
- Superintendent: "Incidents of harassment, intimidation"
- Parents and players vented frustration over the season's shutdown
Six teenage football players accused of hazing and sexual assault at a New Jersey high school were taken into custody Friday evening, according to the Middlesex County Prosecutors office.
Upperclassmen howled as they flipped off the lights then sexually abused their younger classmates at Sayreville High School, parents and players say.
The identities of the teens, ranging in age from 15 to 17, are being withheld because of their ages, but the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office released details of the charges in a statement Friday. A seventh teen also has been charged.
"Three of the juvenile defendants are charged with aggravated sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, conspiracy to commit aggravated criminal sexual contact, criminal restraint, and hazing for engaging in an act of sexual penetration upon one of the juvenile victims," the release stated. "One of those juvenile defendants and the remaining four juvenile defendants were charged with various counts including aggravated assault, conspiracy, aggravated criminal sexual contact, hazing and riot by participating in the attack of the remaining victims."
A family court will decide whether the six teens will be held at a detention facility pending a court hearing or will be released to the custody of their parents or guardians pending the hearing, the prosecutor's office also said in the press release.
The coach and officials would not comment on details of the abuse, but it may have gone on for a year. A Sports Illustrated article indicated that it likely did not involve intercourse.
"There were incidents of harassment, intimidation that took place on a pervasive level, in which the players knew, tolerated and in general accepted," says Superintendent Richard Labbe, who has canceled the successful team's football season.
The Sayreville Bombers took the state championship three out of the last four years. Now parents used to watching their sons' spirited team reign victorious on the gridiron are upset the season won't continue.
"I've never seen so much dedication out of my son, and I want him to play the rest of this season," a mother said at a school meeting to the roar of applause. Despondent players vented frustration over not being able to finish what they've started.
They are at odds with parents and players who broke the allegations. That group is less vocal and declined to be interviewed on camera, afraid to voice grievances out loud.
Parents on both sides have hired lawyers.
A hearing date has not been determined, according to the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office.