DAMASCUS, Md. – A broomstick was used in sexual assault crimes involving high school football players hazing teammates. Four Maryland athletes are accused of “astonishingly cruel” sex related hazing on four teammates inside their school’s locker room on Halloween, a prosecutor alleged in court on Monday, The Washington Post reported.
The alleged attackers and accusers are all members of the Damascus High School junior varsity football team. They are 15-years-old but are being charged as adults.
Police said the students attacked four boys in what the principal described as “an assault involving a broom.” The suspects and victims allegedly told police the assaults were part of a hazing ritual, reports said.
The attack involved a four-foot broom, authorities said. With limited information, it doesn’t take much imagination to figure this one out.
One freshman tried to escape the room but was reportedly blocked, the report said. Another boy told police that two players “threw him on the floor” and held his feet down, authorities said. He reportedly said he and was “poked in his buttocks with the wooden broom.” Police said the three others were attacked in a similar way, Fox 5 DC reported.
“Victim C said after they finished with him, they proceeded to Victim A where they pulled Victim A’s sweatshirt over the top of his head, punched him in the face, knocked him on his back and stomped on him,” investigators said in an arrest document.
Police reportedly said in court papers that one victim asked an attacker to stop but was told it was “tradition.”
New-As many as 7 brooms were left in the area of Damascus High School last night. Apparently in reference to the rape allegations against 4 JV Football players now in custody. Police investigating. The 4 teenagers face a bond review this afternoon. @fox5dc pic.twitter.com/wq4lZMobVU
— Paul Wagner (@Fox5Wagner) November 26, 2018
The crimes came to light after a father found his son sobbing in his room later that night, the Fox 5 DC report said.
The suspects made a court appearance in Montgomery County District Court on Monday and were charged with first-degree rape, The Post reported.
“The defendants’ conduct was astonishingly cruel,” Peter Feeney, the Montgomery deputy state’s attorney, said. He went on to say, “Each defendant played a significant role in carrying out their plan to sexually assault the victims in this case, whether it was pushing, punching, stomping, holding down, tackling or wielding the broom. The crimes could only have been committed with the active participation of each defendant.”
The suspects were identified as Jean Claude Abedi, Kristian Jamal Lee, Will Daniel Smith and Caleb Thorpe. They were released Monday on bond, Fox 5 DC reported.
One unidentified student was charged as a juvenile.
The Post reported that one defense attorney on Monday called the reported incidents hazing that went to “extremes.” The attorney for Smith reportedly said in court that it is a developing case. The lawyer for Lee said his client had a “stellar background” and no “propensity for violence whatsoever.”
The lawyer for Thorpe said his client is “active in his church” and taking six honors courses, The Post reported. The attorney for Abedi talked about how peer pressure can “take over.” He reportedly called his client a “warm, kind young man.”
Abedi’s lawyer said previously that his client will plead not guilty. Lawyers for Smith and Thorpe believe the case should have remained in juvenile court, and said as much.
Fox DC, citing court documents, reported that Smith told police that “the broom” had been used for generations. However, there have been no other victims—even from prior years—that have come forward, the report said.
“I would caution anyone to refer to this as hazing,” McCarthy said. “These boys were victims of criminal acts. They were not victims of hazing. They were victims of first degree rapes and attempted rapes. These were crimes.”