Seven high school football players have been arrested in a hazing scandal in central New Jersey, and three of them have been charged with sex crimes for assaults on freshman team members last month, prosecutors said.
Six of the defendants, whose identities were withheld because they are juveniles, were arrested by investigators with the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and the Sayreville Police Department on Friday night, according to a statement released by prosecutor Andrew Carey.
A seventh defendant surrendered to police Saturday morning.
The alleged incidents took place at Sayreville War Memorial High School between Sept. 19 and Sept. 29, according to Carey, who said four juvenile players were held against their will and improperly touched in a sexual manner.
The hazing allegations surfaced earlier this week, and Middlesex County school officials canceled the school’s football season in response, angering parents and members of the Sayreville community. The team has won multiple state championships and is considered a powerhouse in the New Jersey sports landscape.
Three of the players were charged with aggravated sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact and hazing for “engaging in an act of sexual penetration” on one of the victims, Carey said. The other four face aggravated assault and hazing charges.
Emails sent to Principal James Brown and the school’s athletic director seeking comment were not immediately returned. But the incident has drawn an outcry from New Jersey politicians, including Gov. Chris Christie, who called the allegations “extraordinarily disturbing” on Thursday.
“If these facts as alleged are true, then this is a nightmare for the parents of those young men and it tells us something about the attitude that was allowed to pervade in that program,” Christie told reporters on Thursday.
The defendants will appear in family court in New Jersey, though a hearing date has not been set. Criminal complaints against juveniles are not public record.
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