Twelve men have been arrested in connection with the alleged rapes of two underage girls, with some of the incidents allegedly occurring on the campus of Jacksonville State University and involving students at the school, authorities in Alabama said Friday.
Investigator Jay Harrington of the Calhoun-Cleburne Major Crimes Unit says the alleged victims are between 12 and 16 and the crimes occurred between January and September of this year at or near the university.
Eleven of the men have been charged with rape in the second degree and one has been charged with sodomy in the second degree, he said.
Harrington says that all 12 suspects will have a court appearance on Monday in Calhoun County. He did not give any names, say how many suspects are students or provide details of the alleged assaults.
In a statement, Jacksonville State said it was notified “of alleged student misconduct involving non-students communicating directly with JSU students by electronic means and then coming onto campus grounds and adjacent properties on multiple occasions.”
Bill Broome, an attorney representing one suspect, said one girl portrayed herself on social media as being 19 years old, according to CNN affiliate WBRC.
“This is just wrong to label these young men as rapists and potentially have to register as sex offenders,” he told WBRC.
When reached by CNN, Broome declined to comment.
The school said the matter was referred to the district attorney’s office and campus police and administration officials are fully cooperating.
“Investigators have informed us from the onset that this was a contained situation and that there was not – nor does there appear to be at this time – any safety concern for any JSU students arising out of this matter,” the university said in a statement.
“We as an institution and as a community are committed to maintaining a secure and trusted campus environment for our students, employees, visitors and guests, and we will continue with appropriate vigilance and campus-wide education.”