Sayreville hazing: Shocking details of sex assaults in the locker room
Six of the seven teens charged with abuse and sexual assault in connection with a hazing scandal that led to the cancellation of Sayreville War Memorial High School's 2014 football season will avoid being labeled as Megan’s Law sex offenders, Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey announced late Monday.
In a press release Monday night, Carey said the teens, who were charged with sexually assaulting and/or abusing four other teammates in the high school locker room, have been placed on probationary terms and ordered to each serve 50 hours of community service.
The sentences were handed down by a Family Court judge in New Brunswick after four of the six football players pleaded guilty to "committing a disorderly persons offense of hazing, and third degree endangering the welfare of their younger fellow teammates," the press release stated. The teens who entered the pleas were placed on two years probation. The other two defendants were given one-year probationary terms "after they were adjudicated delinquent following a trial in Family Court." The seventh teen involved in the case is still awaiting trial and authorities say no date has been set.
While the prosecutor acknowledged that the teens were charged with sexual offenses, the cases were "resolved in accordance with juvenile laws and in the best interests of the juvenile defendants, the victims and their families." The decision not to require the juveniles to register under Megan's Law was part of the plea agreements.
“As was previously disclosed, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office determined that the defendants would not be tried as adults and that the Middlesex County Family Court remains the proper venue for these cases,” Carey said said in the press release. “While the Code of Juvenile Justice provides confidentiality for the protection of juveniles, that confidentiality, unfortunately, allows for certain individuals to unscrupulously mislead the public as to what occurred at the school and during juvenile proceedings.”
The prosecutor went on to say that the allegations made in connection with the case were proven in a court of law, and it's now time for the residents of Sayreville to "work together to heal.
In addition, the teens who pleaded guilty are now prohibited from having any contact with the victims involved in the hazing incidents. On of the defendants will also be placed on a curfew throughout his probation.
"The two other juvenile defendants who were adjudicated delinquent on July 1, 2015, stood trial in a closed Family Court trial. Both of them were placed on probation for one year and were ordered to serve 50 hours of community service," the prosecutor added.
THE TRIAL AND CHARGES
According to officials, the high school principal testified as a character witness for two of the juvenile defendants, "despite having no personal knowledge of the assaults and abuses that occurred in the high school locker room."
One of the defendants would have faced a number of indictable offenses had he been tried as an adult, the prosecutor said. He was deemed delinquent "on charges of a disorderly persons simple assault, disorderly conduct, hindering his own apprehension by lying to police and hindering the apprehension of his co-defendants by lying to police." In addition, he was also found guilty of obstruction of justice and false swearing.
The other student whose case was heard in Family Court was found delinquent on charges including a disorderly persons simple assault charge and one count of engaging in disorderly conduct in connection with the hazing incident.
"Initially, the Family Court judge had adjudicated them both delinquent of criminal restraint. Following a motion by the defense to reconsider the decision, and without the receipt of any additional testimony, the judge reversed his own findings of fact, and instead found them not guilty of criminal restraint, thus sparing them from mandatory registration as Megan’s Law offenders," the prosecutor said.
WHAT HAPPENED IN THE LOCKER ROOM
The charges against the teens stemmed from four incidents that took place in the locker room of Sayreville Memorial High School between Sept. 19 and 30 of 2014. The juvenile members of the football team were taken into custody after it was determined by authorities that they had been involved in the attacks on their teammates. The seven juvenile defendants were taken into custody in October 2014, after the investigation determined they each played roles in the attacks upon their fellow teammates. The scandal prompted school officials to cancel the 2014 football season as the investigation continued.
During that time, community members showed their support for the victims and vowed to work together to begin the healing process during a community vigil at the high school athletic field.
Authorities say that while the Family Court hearings were taking place, the identities of the teens were protected and they were transported to the courtroom via security entrances away from public view.
Police say the first hazing incident took place on Sept. 19. During that time, an investigation determined, a 17-year-old student “body slammed a 15-year-old victim to the floor and pretended to stomp and kick the victim, exposing him to bodily injury." The Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office said Monday that the same defendant, and a 16-year-old who is awaiting trial, also attacked a 14-year-old boy. two others connected to that incident were adjudicated subsequent to the trial, authorities said.
"The victim also was forcibly knocked to the floor. One defendant held the victim, while at least two of the other defendants grabbed his penis and attempted to digitally penetrate his anus," the press releases states. "Two to five other students, who could not be identified by the victim, surrounded him during the sexual assault.
Another incident in the hazing scandal involved younger juveniles. Three 15-year-old students sexually assaulted a 14-year-old boy, authorities said. The prosecutor's office said the victim's anus was penetrated through his clothing. the assailants all admitted to the charges and pleaded guilty.
The third incident involved a 15-year-old male "charged with the digital penetration on the previous day." Authorities say he "swiped his fingers between the buttocks of a 14-year-old boy. The defendant also pleaded guilty to the lesser charges in that sexual assault."
The scandal led to ended the 20-year reign of George Najjar as head coach. During his tenure, Najjar who lifted the program to become one of the best in the state with a 165-54 regular season record.
Earlier this month, NJ 101.5 spoke with members of the community. With a new head coach in place and a new football season starting, many community members said they were eager to move on from the scandal.
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