New York, NY – Three young athletes at the Bronx High School of Science have been charged with performing and participating in a violent sexual hazing ritual.
The students involved, who are all juniors, are facing misdemeanor charges for sexually abusing a younger freshman student. The allegations include forcible touching, hazing in the second degree, and harassment.
The three young suspects — identified as 17-year-old Pier Berkmans, 16-year-old Thomas Brady, and 16-year-old Boubacar Diallo — all members of the school’s track team, are being charged as adults. Being charged as adults makes their case a matter of public record.
In response to the bullying and hazing incident, the school issued a letter to parents explaining the assault would be fully investigated and noted all track team events would be suspended, pending completion of the investigation. One question in the city’s internal investigation is likely to be whether anyone in a position of authority was aware of the inappropriate behavior.
During their February 28 arraignment, all three young men pled not guilty. They have since been released to their parents on personal recognizance bonds, according to CBS News.
The three team members will meet with school officials Thursday to see if they’ll be allowed to return. They are due back in court on Friday.
The Education Department has stated the athletic director, head coach, and the assistant track coach who oversee the track team have all since been suspended.
Steven Banks, a chief lawyer for the Legal Aid Society, representing Mr. Brady, was quoted in the New York Timesas saying:
“We are very concerned about the rush to judgment here. Under our system, these children — and they are just that, children — are entitled to a presumption of innocence.”
The boys’ track teams have routinely won borough championships in recent years, and, during the 2011 cross-country season, their runners were first in New York City. Berkmans is one of the city’s top distance runners.
[Image via Wikimedia]