Wall High School Students Charged with Hazing, Sex Crimes in Locker Room
A recording of one of the incidents allegedly shows football players pinning down another player and assaulting him with a broom.
WALL, N.J. — Several Wall High School students have been charged in connection to alleged attacks in the football locker room, prosecutors announced Monday.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office said an unspecified number of juvenile defendants are facing charges including hazing, attempted criminal sexual contact, criminal sexual contact, false imprisonment and harassment, reports The New York Post.
The incidents, some of which were recorded on cell phone video, are alleged to have occurred last September and October, leading the school district to abruptly cancel the football team’s season in the midst of the playoffs. Seven students were suspended in November as a result, and three coaches and the athletic director were also suspended shortly after the public became aware of the alleged hazing.
The school began investigating allegations in November, one of which claimed a sophomore football player was pinned to the floor of the locker room by older players and assaulted with a broomstick, according to parents. A video of the incident, which was viewed by NJ.com, reportedly shows four teens holding the victim in the air and trying to spread his legs. The victim was able to twist free and fell to the floor. A fifth attacker appears to poke the victim with a broomstick on his buttocks between his legs. At least four other players are seen laughing in the background while others pleaded for them to stop.
Although the video does not show sodomy, parents said it was clearly the intention. The attacks occurred more than once during the season, parents claim.
Christopher Adams, a lawyer for one of the juveniles, denied that there was anything sexual about the incidents and that he is seeking to have the sex charges against his client dismissed, NBC News reports.
“There is absolutely nothing sexual about anything that happened in the videos or in the locker room. This was wrestling and horsing around by 15, 16 and 17 year old boys — all dressed — before football practice in front of the coaches. The coaches witnessed this behavior and saw it for what it was — sophomoric, not sexual. Adding a baseless sex charge is not only unsupported by the facts, but nothing more than playing politics and pandering to the media,” Adams said. “Deal with it for what it is. If you want to call this harassment, we can have a rational discussion over that. I don’t even think this amounts to hazing. … These are high school boys screwing around.”
The prosecutor’s office said while juvenile cases are not usually publicized, it is doing so “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.”
Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey wrote in a statement that any form of hazing has no place in schools.
“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,” she 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.”
Some Wall residents claim there has been a long-standing culture of bullying and harassment within the town that has been ignored for years. During a November board of education meeting, several students shared their experiences of bullying within the school system, including 2020 Wall High School graduate Rebecca King.
“There is a specific problem in this town. The kids that have more privilege in the community, they just push the limits with the privilege they have,” King said. “A lot of them don’t possess any moral compass or empathy because they were just taught the world revolves around them.”