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DA wants teens in hazing case to stand trial as adults

By Rose Arce

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(CNN) -- A Pennsylvania district attorney announced Monday that he has petitioned the court to have three high school football players stand trial as adults on sexual assault charges related to the alleged sodomy of their young teammates.

Wayne County District Attorney Mark Zimmer had charged the trio with 10 criminal charges, including deviant sexual intercourse, aggravated assault, kidnapping, unlawful restraint and false imprisonment in the August incident.

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His request raises the charges to felony status meaning several carry potential sentences of up to 20 years.

"This was not an isolated incident. It was not something that happened spur of the moment. This was something that went on for days," he said of the boys' alleged behavior.

Zimmer said the three would be surrendering themselves to Pennsylvania authorities in the next few days. Then a judge will consider the petition to elevate the allegations to adult charges.

A grand jury will continue to look into the allegations to see if more charges are necessary against the three or any others, including the coaches who were supervising the trip of the football team from Mepham High School in Bellmore, New York, on Long Island.

The three have been suspended from school, and the school board has canceled the school's football season after it was determined that most of the squad knew of the attacks but did not report them.

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.

"We've got three individuals, working together, working continuously," he said. "They worked together, they did this together, they should stay together."

Zimmer explained his decision to call for adult charges by saying that he was moved by the victims' plight and the lack of remorse shown by the alleged assailants. He said the victims felt fearful of venturing out into their community while the alleged attackers seemed to have no fear.

He said the alleged attackers' attorneys would now have the burden of demonstrating that their clients could be rehabilitated.

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.

The alleged victims are identified as a 13-year-old and two 14-year-olds.

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