A new report from The New York Times seems to confirm several of the most disturbing allegations against a group of high school football players currently accused of sexually assaulting and hazing four of their team’s freshman members.
The sexual assault allegations against seven members of the Sayreville War Memorial High School football team have upended the small New Jersey town since the team’s season was cancelled two weeks ago. A report from NJ Advance Media soon after laid out some truly terrible hazing rituals — “[A] freshman football player would be pinned to the locker room floor, his arms and feet held down by multiple upperclassmen. Then, the victim would be lifted to his feet while a finger was forced into his rectum.”
Seven upperclassmen Sayreville football players were taken into police custody last weekend, and face of range of charges, including three students who face aggravated sexual assault charges for the four seperate incidents of hazing.
The Times spoke to two of the four alleged victims, as well as multiple witnesses who are members of the Sayreville football team, revealing more details about the hazing practice known as “arse taking.” As The Times reports, “Whenever the older students gathered around a victim, some would urge, ‘Take the arse.'” Here’s how the paper describes one assault, on September 19:
“Hootie hoo,” the older players yelled before their home game that night, flicking the lights on and off and on again. Then they tripped a freshman in a T-shirt and football pants, letting loud music muffle any noise the boy made as he fell. Two pinned the younger boy’s arms, while others punched and kicked him — not viciously, but hard enough to matter, two witnesses said. He curled into the fetal position and was groped by his attackers…
One witness said he saw an older teenager grope the freshman’s genitals and another older teenager poke fingers up his buttocks, from outside his pants. Another witness said he could not see what happened. The victim jumped up after being held down and started laughing. “You guys never saw anything,” he yelled at his friends.
In a later interview, the victim played down the attack, saying that no one poked him anywhere. He said he was embarrassed by the attack but got over it quickly. “It was just horsing around,” he said.
As The Times reports regarding all four of the attacks, “The older players punched and sometimes kicked the younger ones, pinned them and, at the very least, grabbed their buttocks, the freshmen said.”
It is worth noting that both alleged victims who spoke to The Times — including one who said he was penetrated with a upperclassman’s finger — told the paper that they were wearing pants at the time of the assaults, and “did not consider what happened to be that serious.” A witness to a third assault also said that the victim was wearing pants at the time.
Local media outlets reported that five of the team’s coaching staff were suspended this weekend, including the team’s head coach.
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