Four football players, all 15-years-old, could be facing life in prison after being charged with sexually assaulting four teammates in a hazing ritual.
Four sophomores are accused of participating in a hazing ritual so “astonishingly cruel,” according to prosecutors, that it could land them in prison for the rest of their lives.
It happened inside the freshman locker room of the Damascus High School in Maryland on October 31st, according to ABC News.
The high school’s principal “reported an assault involving a broom” the next day, according the the charging documents filed in Montgomery County court.
The students being charged are Jean Claude “JC” Abedi, Kristian “KJ” Jamal Lee, Will Daniel Smith, and Caleb Thorpe. All four are 15 years old, but are being charged as adults, prosecutors said.
The first victim told investigators that he was inside the freshman locker room getting ready for football practice when someone turned off the lights.
The arrest warrant alleges that Abedi and Lee grabbed the victim by the shoulders and threw him onto the floor. One of him held his feet and pulled his pants down, and then either Abedi or Lee assaulted him with the broom.
During the attack, the victim says Abedi and Lee were both laughing. The arrest warrant then says that Abedi and Lee removed the broomstick and “proceeded to do the same thing to other male members” of the football team.
The second victim alleges that he saw Abedi and Lee assault the first victim. According to the charging document, someone in the locker room then “stated that it would be good to do it” to the second victim, too.
The second victim was then held face down on a locker room bench as Abedi and Lee pulled down his uniform practice pants and boxers and “‘stabbed’ his buttocks several times.”
When the victim told the suspects to stop, Smith allegedly replied that it was “tradition” before moving on to the third victim.
The suspects then allegedly pulled the third victim’s hoodie “over his head, punched him in the face, knocked him on his back and stomped on him.”
The arrest warrant also says another student was involved, but he is being characterized as both a victim and a suspect.
The suspects are said to have rushed to the unnamed student, who “fought them off him,” as one of the suspects tried to poke him “with the broomstick on his football girdle and practice pants.” Someone yelled “Coach is coming!” and everyone then ran away.
The third victim told investigators that he had heard people refer to the act in the past as “giving the broom to people.”
Members of the football team also discussed the incident in a group chat on Snapchat, according to Moore, who confessed that he “laid on” the second victim “for a second” and sitting on the first victim’s face and pushing him.
All four suspects are charged with first-degree rape for one victim, three counts of attempted first-degree rape for the others, and conspiracy to commit first-degree rape. They were arrested on November 1st.
According to the Washington Post, the four will be charged as adults after the charges were amended.
“I’m offended by the term hazing,” Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said Monday. “It’s not hazing. These are crimes, and I would caution anyone to refer to this as hazing.”
The attorney for one of the defendants says his client is innocent, but he’s not surprised to hear of the allegations.
“I think the short answer is there is information out there that this has happened on other occasions in other years,” said attorney David Felsen.
Felsen told WJLA-TV that he plans to fight the decision to try the JV athletes as adults, insisting the juvenile system is better equipped to handle the case.
“These are 15 year old kids, and that, all of that has to be kept in mind,” he said.
“This act is extremely upsetting and clearly demonstrates an attempt to harm the well-being of DHS students, staff and community,” a letter sent home to parents, obtained by WJLA, read. “An investigation is underway and any person found responsible for this will be assigned consequences according to all applicable laws and in accordance with the MCPS Code of Conduct.”