Montgomery County (Md.) police have charged a quintet of junior varsity football players from Damascus High School with a variety of rape offenses after they allegedly assaulted two of their teammates with a broomstick and attempted to do the same to two others on Halloween night. Damascus is a powerhouse football program, with an undefeated varsity team this season; the alleged victims said that the broomstick attack was part of a hazing ritual.
Three teenagers were arrested on Nov. 1 by police and charged with two counts of second-degree rape and two counts of attempted second-degree rape. Two others were arrested the next day, and one was charged with three counts of second-degree rape while the other was charged with one count of attempted second-degree rape. All of the alleged attackers are juveniles, so their identities have been kept secret, and their court hearings were closed to the public. The cops confirmed that all nine people involved were Damascus students.
The Washington Post obtained a copy of the police report, which has not been made public yet. The victims said they had heard rumors of “brooming,” though they didn’t believe that they’d be hazed by their teammates. He said that he pleaded with his alleged attackers to stop, but they told him it was tradition. The suspects are accused of shutting the lights off in the locker room, restraining two of their teammates, then sexually assaulting them:
The first victim, according to the police, said he was in the locker room about 2:30 p.m. when the lights went off. He said two teammates pushed him to the ground, with one holding his feet while both laughed. The victim said he shouted, “Let me go!” according to the report.
Another victim told investigators that he was in the locker room, saw the first boy attacked and then heard the attackers say they were coming after him. They held him facedown over a bench and assaulted him with a broomstick for about 10 seconds, according to the incident report.
Two other players were apparently forced to the floor, but they managed to fight their way out and escape before being assaulted. The final victim told the police that he was being held down by four people when “someone yelled ‘Coach is coming!’ and everyone ran away.”
The police would not comment whether they were investigating the alleged systemic hazing, though school officials told the Post that they planned on looking into possible cultures of hazing across the district, which is Maryland’s largest. “We want to know if there is a climate and culture of bullying and hazing we need to address,” a spokesperson said said. Montgomery Schools Superintendent Jack R. Smith sent a video to every student in his district about the case, and he said, “Bullying, harassment, hazing, verbal and physical abuse, whether in classrooms, hallways and sports, or in any extracurricular activity, will not be tolerated in our schools.”