The Sayreville hazing case has stunned a New Jersey community. Last week, Sayreville War Memorial High School officials announced that the football season was cancelled, and the team would forfeit all remaining games. Days later, seven football players were arrested on numerous charges, including aggravated sexual assault.
Although the incidents are being characterized as hazing, authorities said the reality is far worse. According to one parent, who wishes to remain anonymous, some of the players were brutally raped.
As reported by NJ.com, the Sayreville hazing was performed by senior football players — their victims were freshmen.
“In the darkness, 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. Sometimes, the same finger was then shoved into the freshman player’s mouth.”
Madeline Thillet, whose son is a member of the Sayreville football team, said the hazing accusations were greatly exaggerated.
“I was at the police station with him when they were questioning him. They were talking about a butt being grabbed. That’s about it. No one was hurt. No one died. I don’t understand why they’re being punished. I think that the forfeited game was punishment enough.”
Although the teens were arrested on juvenile charges, the cases could be transferred to the adult system. A spokesperson for Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey confirmed the Sayreville students were charged in four separate hazing incidents involving four teens.
If the cases are transferred to the adult system, three of the accused teens will face 20 years in prison. Additionally, they will be forced to register as sex offenders for a minimum of 15 years.
As reported by the New York Times, prosecutors have 30 days to request a transfer to the adult system. Although defense attorneys often argue against transfers, Middlesex County prosecutors are notorious for pursuing adult charges for violent crimes.
Prosecutor Carey has not commented on how he plans to proceed. However, if the teens are charged as juveniles, the teens will still face stiff penalties. In the juvenile system, charges of aggravated sexual assault are punishable with time in a juvenile detention center. Additionally, if convicted, the teens will be listed in “a sex offender database.”
The Sayreville hazing incident is tragic on many levels. Unfortunately, the scandal has not only scarred the victims, it has stunned the entire community.
[Image via Citrus College]