Wall High School: Students NOW accused of locker room sex crimes soon after hazing scandal
MONMOUTH COUNTY, NEW JERSEY: A number of Wall High School students have been charged with hazing and sex offenses in connection with attacks that took place in the football team’s locker room in September and October last year, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office. In a separate incident, a Wall High School student has also been charged with a sexual assault off-campus. The prosecutor’s office has not revealed the specific number of students who were charged. In a statement, the office said that all the suspects are juveniles and juvenile matters are dealt with, with strict confidentiality.
The hazing scandal at the school first came to light in November last year, following which the school canceled the football team's season in the midst of the playoffs. The charges that have been filed now are the first following this incident. A number of administrative suspensions have been handed done by the district, including seven students suspended in November last year. After the public became aware of the alleged hazing incident, three coaches and the athletic director were also suspended by the district.
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Multiple videos of the locker room assaults were viewed, one of which reportedly showed five students brutally attack a victim. Four of the teenagers tried to forcefully spread the victim's legs. When he fell to the ground, the fifth student attacked him. At least four other students stood in the background, seemingly enjoying the scene and giggling. On one occasion, one of them was reportedly heard saying, "Get his legs!".
The students charged include juvenile complaints of hazing, attempted criminal sexual contact, criminal sexual contact, false imprisonment and harassment. The student who has been charged for a crime outside of the campus will face aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault, the prosecutor’s office said.
“The results of our investigations necessitated the filing of juvenile complaints against those involved in order to serve the interests of justice,” NJ Advance Media quoted acting Monmouth Prosecutor Lori Linskey as saying.
"It is imperative that victims of hazing, harassment, intimidation, and bullying know that such conduct is not a ‘rite of passage’ and should not be endured without consequence in order to gain acceptance in social, club, sport, or academic settings,” Linskey said. "We are hopeful that the lessons gleaned from this case foster a renewed focus on actively teaching juveniles in all of our schools what conduct crosses the line of acceptability, and what students must do if they are a bystander or victim of hazing, harassment, intimidation, or bullying."
According to an attorney representing one of the charged juveniles, Christopher Adams, the facts released about the students by the prosecutor were “unprecedented and grossly irresponsible.” ”There is absolutely nothing sexual about anything that happened in the videos or in the locker room and we look forward to proving that,” Adams said. “This was wrestling and sophomoric behavior by 15, 16 and 17 year old boys before football practice in front of the coaches. If there was anything sexual the coaches would have stopped it, but they didn’t because it was nothing more than horseplay.”
The prosecutor’s office said that although juvenile cases are usually not publicized, the office is doing so in this case "in response to intense public scrutiny regarding these matters and a high degree of misinformation circulating with regard to them, as well as in order to educate and inform the community regarding the seriousness of such conduct.”