Less than a week after a New Jersey high school's football season was abruptly canceled, seven of the team's teenage players are facing charges associated with "a series of locker room sexual assaults on four victims."
Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey and Chief John Zebrowski of the Sayreville Police Department announced in a statement that "six of seven juveniles were taken into custody" Friday "on charges of juvenile delinquency arising from attacks on four victims in four separate incidents at Sayreville War Memorial High School," located in the Parlin section of Sayreville, N.J. And seventh juvenile defendant surrendered to police early Saturday morning. The juveniles range in age from 15 to 17 years old.
"The complaints charge that on various dates between September 19, 2014 and September 29, 2014," the statement says, "one or more of the juvenile defendants either held the victims against their will, while other juvenile defendants improperly touched the juvenile victims in a sexual manner." Among the charges against the teens are "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."
In an exclusive interview with NJ.com, a parent of one of the team's players detailed the kind of harrowing events that led to the juveniles' arrests.
"In the darkness," the parent's description begins, "a freshman football player would be pinned to the locker room floor, his arms and feet held down by multiple upperclassmen. Then, the victim would be lifted to his feet while a finger was forced into his rectum. Sometimes, the same finger was then shoved into the freshman player’s mouth."
The teenagers are being 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 statement notes. "Their identities are being withheld because of their ages."
The teens will be required to appear before a judge at the Superior Court in Family Court at an as-yet undetermined future date.