Four 15-year-old suspects in a criminal investigation at a Maryland high school were released after their parents paid a $20,000 bond, reports KRON4 News. The four suspects, Kristian Lee, Jean Claude Abedi, Caleb Thorpe, and Will Smith, all of whom were members of the junior varsity squad at Damascus High, face multiple felony charges related to the incident. The four youths will be tried as adults.
The charges against the youths stem from the alleged sexual assaults against four fellow teammates that involved a broomstick. These assaults were said to have taken place this past Halloween. Witnesses and suspects, according to a police report, said that the alleged assaults were part of a hazing ritual, reports The Baltimore Sun.
"I would caution anyone to refer to this as hazing," warned John McCarthy, who serves as State Attorney for Montgomery County. "These boys were victims of criminal acts. They were not victims of hazing. They were victims of first-degree rapes and attempted rapes. These were crimes."
Will Smith's defense attorney, David Fielsen, offered up a different take on the events in question.
"This was an event where many people talked about things being traditions. I think that those sort of give a different gloss to it and we will have to see how the facts pan out."
The alleged rape took place in the football JV locker room after the lights were turned off. According to court documents that were made public, the four suspects entered the locker room before practice and attacked younger members of their team.
The documents also detail the claims of violence.
"The victims were allegedly held down and penetrated repeatedly by a broom handle as they were also beaten, punched and stomped on by the older players."Witnesses that were in the locker room when the alleged rapes occurred said one of the victims had been singled out as the smallest teammate, and that "previous acts of abuse" had also been inflicted on that individual.
The Washington Post-- per The Baltimore Sun-- obtained a six-page incident report prepared by the Montgomery County Police Department, that included details of the attack that were not made public. The report describes how a 14-year-old youth was heard screaming, and then how a 15-year-old youth cried and exclaimed, "Stop, stop, stop!"Two others were targeted for abuse during the incident, but they managed to fight off their alleged attackers.
David Fielsen said that after reviewing his client's case, that there was a lot of information present.
"We are hoping that there will be a proper vetting of that information at the appropriate time," he added.
The suspect's lawyers said part of their defense motions would be to move to file waivers that allow the suspect's cases to be moved from an adult court to one for juveniles. According to Paul Zmuda, a former Maryland prosecutor and defense lawyer, if the youths are tried as juveniles, punishment can be expected to be lessened.
Zmuda says the punishment for juveniles is typically six to nine months in a juvenile detention facility, for these type of charges. Offenders may even be put on house arrest, where they are monitored with an ankle bracelet or with electronic monitoring.