Four high school wrestlers from Norman, Oklahoma, have been charged with rape for allegedly sexually assaulting two underage boys as part of a hazing ritual.
According to CNN, one of the students charged with rape is an 18-year-old boy named Tanner Shane Shipman. The other three are all minors, so their names have not been released to the public. Two of them are 17 years old and one is 16.
All four have been charged with rape for allegedly anally penetrating two victims at the back of a school bus on January 9. Audio and video footage from the school bus has been recovered, depicting the disturbing crime during a trip back from a Norman North High School wrestling team tournament. District Attorney Greg Mashburn has reviewed the video evidence.
People Magazine reported that the four boys allegedly sexually assaulted two of their younger teammates as part of a brutal hazing ritual. According to court documents, Tanner Shipman and his teammates held down a 16-year-old boy beneath one of the seats at the back of the bus. Two of the boys charged with rape then allegedly forced their fingers into the boy’s rectum over his clothing.
The students then pulled the same stunt on a much younger boy on the wrestling team. After failing to coax a 12-year-old student to the back of the bus, Shipman reportedly dragged him back by force. The bus driver then stopped the assault by flipping on the overhead lights and ordering the students back to their seats. But as soon as the driver shut the lights back off, the four students went right back at it. This time they succeeded, allegedly pinning the 12-year-old down and inserting fingers into his anus through his clothes, with a condom over the fingers.
Shipman also allegedly ordered one of the boys to “Touch my balls!” and forced the victim’s hand against his crotch.
But the alleged rape didn’t end there. Once the bus made it back to Norman High School, the four boys allegedly went at it again. They cornered the same 12-year-old boy and forced yet another set of fingers into his anus, according to court documents. The boy managed to escape, but the four wrestlers pursued him a fourth time. It wasn’t until the victim’s parents arrived that the alleged sexual assault was stopped.
After being charged with rape, Tanner Shipman pleaded not guilty. He has since been released on bail.
“We’re fighting this,” said Elton Jenkins, who is defending one of the minors charged with rape.
Superintendent of Norman Public Schools Joseph Siano released a statement about the wrestling team incident, claiming that student athletes don’t typically exhibit this kind of horrific behavior.
“[We] believe the district’s policies regarding student supervision are strong, we continuously evaluate our procedures to ensure they are followed. As we address the inappropriate behavior displayed by several students, we remain committed to supporting the vast majority of our student athletes, who are quality individuals that demonstrate positive behavior and strong character traits.”
The four students involved have been suspended from Norman North High School and the two wrestling coaches who were supposed to oversee the bus ride have been terminated. Siano informed the public that the school will be increasing adult supervision on future trips.
“Our hearts break for these victims,” he said, “and our student advocacy coordinators are working closely with them through this traumatic time.”
All four of the boys charged with rape willingly turned themselves into the police on Tuesday.
What do you think? Should the minors also be charged with rape? How should they be punished if they’re found guilty?
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)