Two Pennsylvania high school football players have been charged with sexually assaulting six peers while encouraging eight of their teammates to join in on the attacks, prosecutors said.
The two 17-year-olds from the Middletown High School football team allegedly assaulted their fellow student-athletes in the school turf room, a residence and possibly even at a football summer camp, Dauphin County District Attorney Francis T. Chardo said Tuesday.
The victims’ ages range from 14 to 17.
“This investigation did not involve just hazing or ‘boys will be boys’ conduct,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Gettle said in a statement. “Rather, two of these individuals committed repeated sexual assaults and encouraged others to participate under the guise of hazing.”
Officials launched the month-long investigation after a social media video showing the teenagers allegedly assaulting another football player during an Aug. 11 practice was reported to police.
Three students were sexually assaulted in the turf room that day during a 20-minute period when adults left the students alone, police said.
Officials said three other students were assaulted over the last year during various incidents, with at least one occurring in a home.
Police believe six more students may have been assaulted by the teens at a football summer camp, but the victims have been reluctant to cooperate with the police.
All six assaults involved the two 17-year-olds, who have since been removed from the high school. They face multiple counts of criminal attempt to commit involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault, unlawful restraint, simple assault and hazing.
Eight other students, all ages 16 and 17, face varying charges of unlawful restraint, unlawful restraint and hazing and violating the hazing statute.
Middletown Area School District Superintendent Dr. Chelton Hunter released a statement expressing “disappointment” with the actions of the high schoolers.
“The District has already contracted with outside experts who specialize in working with schools to address hazing and to help rebuild and foster positive, supportive sports programs, and learning environments for students,” he said.
“We are looking forward as we engage in the implementation of our districtwide plan that our administrative team and staff developed to address any concerns about culture.”
Officials conducted 80 interviews throughout the investigation.
Police don’t believe the perpetrators’ coaches or school administrators knew of the assaults.