Most serious charges dropped against Wall, NJ students in hazing case
WALL — Six football players facing juvenile hazing and sexual contact charges have been sentenced to community service and if they keep their record clean the rest of the charges will be dropped within a year.
A source with knowledge about the investigation told New Jersey 101.5 that the most serious charges of criminal sexual contact and false imprisonment were dropped against all six students.
The plea deal includes a deferred disposition, which means the rest of the charges including hazing, attempted criminal sexual contact and harassment will also be dropped if the students keep a clean record during their probation period of up to a year.
"In light of the confidentiality of juvenile proceedings, the Office will decline comment," Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Mark Spivey told New Jersey 101.5. Wall Township Board of Education president Ralph Addonozio said he could not comment on a juvenile matter.
News 12 New Jersey was the first to report the plea deal.
Accused students already punished, lawsuits coming
The students already were "punished " by the district with community service. They were also prohibited from attending the prom and participating in other activities including spring sports. The students also served 10 days suspensions for "hazing and conduct unbecoming a student" in the fall.
The allegations are far from over for the district Addonzio and members of the Board of Education, Superintendent Tracey Handerhan, the football coaching staff and other administrators have been served with three notices of tort claims, the required first step when filing a lawsuit against a public entity.
The lawsuits allege that because of their "carelessness, recklessness and negligence" that left the locker room unsupervised, members of the team were able to "viciously assault/batter" a classmate whose name is redacted in a copy of the tort claim.
"The assault/battery was not stopped or otherwise interrupted at any time by any employee despite the fact that said classmates has subjected other members of Wall High School's varsity football team to similar assault/batteries on multiple prior occasions," according to the tort claim.
School making changes, moving forward
The district authorized a new position that will provide extra paid supervision in the high school locker rooms before and after classes. Addonizio wouldn't say if the new position was in reaction to the hazing which took place in the locker room.
"I would say the district and administration are constantly looking at the functionality of the school and making improvements and making sure there's adult supervision everywhere at all times," Board of Education President Ralph Addonizio told New Jersey 101.5.
The school intends to continue with a football program and has hired veteran Shore Conference coach Ed Gurrieri to lead the Crimson Knights. He is a member of the Shore Football Coaches Foundation Hall of Fame and was coach of Manalapan High School from 2004-2019 for a 109-35 record.
Vin Ebenau contributed to this report