Seven Sayreville War Memorial High School football players who were charged Friday for their role in a series of alleged sexual assaults could be tried as adults, the New York Times reported.
The New Jersey high school football players accused of committing acts of violent sexual hazing await their first court hearing in Middlesex County this week.
Under New Jersey Law, offenders under the age of 18 are automatically brought into the juvenile justice system, where they see a family court judge, even if the circumstances are serious and violent. But according to the Times, prosecutors can apply for a waiver to bring the case into the adult system.
A 2011 analysis of court data for the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice found that Middlesex County prosecutors sought waivers in roughly 20 percent of felony-level cases, higher than the 12 percent state average.
The teenagers were arrested and charged as juveniles with a list of serious offenses stemming from four separate hazing episodes against four teenagers.
Three of the teens face charges including aggravated sexual assault—a violent crime that can carry up to a 20-year prison term in the adult system—for an “act of sexual penetration,” Middlesex County authorities said. The four others face a lesser top charge of aggravated assault.
According to NJ Advance Media, during the locker room “hazing” ritual, four players would pounce on a freshman, pinning him to the locker room floor while two players would provide lookout at the door. Another player would howl, cut off the lights, and digitally penetrate the freshman.
Thus far, four victims of sexual abuse have come forward.
The alleged incidents that occurred in that locker room were more than part of a “hazing ritual”—they were part of a sexual assault ritual.
My heart goes out to the brave young victims who had the courage to come forward. By exposing predators and the institutions that protected them, these courageous survivors will save future generations from the same horrendous fate.