Police to charge school athletes in sex assault
From Jonathan Wald
(CNN) -- Authorities plan to formally charge three high school football players from Long Island, New York, accused of sexually abusing three of their junior teammates at a pre-season training camp in northeastern Pennsylvania, according to state police.
In a statement released Wednesday, Pennsylvania state police said the three teenagers -- ages 15,16, and 17 -- "will be formally charged in the near future" once Wayne County District Attorney Mark Zimmer files the appropriate court papers.
The varsity players from Mepham High School in Bellmore, New York, are being investigated for allegations that they sodomized the three junior varsity players with broomsticks, pine cones and golf balls as part of a hazing ritual while the team was at the Pennsylvania sports camp the last week of August.
Police have recommended that Zimmer charge the juveniles with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated and simple assault, kidnapping, reckless endangering of another person, unlawful restraint, criminal coercion, aggravated indecent assault and criminal conspiracy.
"It's alleged that during the football camp, the three listed accused juveniles committed acts of sodomy on three juvenile victims," the statement said. The alleged victims are identified as a 13-year-old and two 14-year-olds.
"These acts involved the use of threats, beatings and then sexual assaults which included the use of foreign objects with mineral ice on them."
In his first public statement on the allegations, Mepham High School head coach Kevin McElroy Tuesday offered his sympathy to the three alleged victims and said he considers the attack a criminal act, not hazing.
When allegations of the abuse surfaced the three accused teenagers were initially suspended from the football team.
They were subsequently suspended from school on September 18 following a unanimous school board vote to cancel the school's football season after it was determined that most of the squad knew of the attacks but did not report them.
One of the alleged victims is now being taught at home by teachers provided by the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District.
Between August 22-27 about 60 players and five coaches attended Camp Wayne in Preston Township in the rural northeastern corner of Pennsylvania, about 35 miles from Scranton.
Parents of the allegedly abused boys first told their story to the school principal on September 5, a school official said. The families later contacted the local police, who notified Pennsylvania authorities, the official said.
Police said that further arrests are possible as the investigation continues.
Mepham High School is located in Bellmore which is about 30 miles from Manhattan on Long Island's south shore.