Multiple students at a New Jersey high school have been criminally charged in the wake of a widespread investigation into the alleging hazing practices among the school’s football team.
The hazing scandal at Wall High School has led to juvenile charges being filed against “a number” of teenage students after the team’s coach lost his job, multiple coaches were suspended, and the remainder of the season was canceled.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office announced juvenile complaints stemming from incidents occurring inside the Wall Township High School football team’s locker room between September and October of last year. The charges filed include:
- Attempted criminal sexual contact.
- Criminal sexual contact.
- False imprisonment and harassment.
Additional charges of aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault have been filed against a juvenile for alleged action occurring outside of school.
An attorney for one of the students charged said it was “unprecedented and grossly irresponsible” for the prosecutor’s office to release the information related to the juvenile charges and disputed the allegations of any sex crimes.
“There is absolutely nothing sexual about anything that happened in the videos or in the locker room, and we look forward to proving that. This was wrestling and sophomoric behavior by 15, 16, and 17 year old boys before football practice in front of the coaches — if there were anything sexual, the coaches would have stopped it, but they didn’t because it was anything sexual the coaches would have stopped it but they didn’t because it was nothing more than horseplay,” attorney Christopher Adams said in a statement.
Adams went on to go after the state’s acting attorney general as well, saying that if Andrew Bruck approved the release of the information regarding juvenile charges, “then he’s proven that he doesn’t support the administration’s juvenile justice reforms and is not qualified” for the position.
He also added that a “baseless sex charge is not only unsupported by facts” but nothing more than playing politics and pandering to the media.
While the number of students facing criminal charges is unknown, they follow the suspension of four student-athletes late last year by school administrators. The breaks at Wall High School came at two separate times, once hazing surfaced and then at least a week or so later.
Following the students, suspensions were multiple heated school board meetings that have taken place since the allegations came to light in November.
On Monday, the prosecutors released a press release stating: “While no information is released regarding most juvenile cases, the Prosecutor’s Office is releasing the above information today in response to intense public scrutiny regarding these matters and a high degree of misinformation circulating with regard to them, as well as in order to educate and inform the community regarding the seriousness of such conduct.”
The prosecutor’s office launched an investigation into the locker room incident in which parents say it was captured on video with a cellphone.
“We are hopeful that the lessons gleaned from this case foster a renewed focus on actively teaching juveniles in all of our schools what conduct crosses the line of acceptability and what students must do if they are a bystander or victim of hazing, harassment, intimidation, or bullying,” the release from Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linksey said.
Wall Township Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Tracy Handerhan and other school officials have stated that they cannot comment because of the ongoing investigation.
According to a statement released by the school district, a total of three coaches for the Wall High School football team have been suspended, including head coach and business teacher Tony Grandinetti.
So far, only one school board member has resigned, citing hazing allegations are the reason.