Hazing at High School Athletic Programs Sometimes Includes Sexual Assault

 In Sexual Abuse

About a month ago, this story broke in New Jersey, alleging a disturbing pattern of sexually­-assaultive hazing among boys on the high school football team in Sayreville, New Jersey.

The story out of Sayreville echoes alleged hazing incidents among the Capital High School boys’ basketball team in Olympia that occurred during summer overnight basketball camps in 2010 and 2012.

Allegations of hazing, especially ones that include sexual assault or any other type of physical injury to the student being hazed, raise a host of liability issues for a school district that is entrusted with keeping our children safe.

In both the Sayreville, New Jersey and the Olympia incidents, the alleged hazing involved boys holding a team member down while another placed a finger in the juvenile’s anus.

We filed a lawsuit against the Olympia School District on behalf of one of the former Capital High School basketball players who was allegedly sexually assaulted during a summer basketball camp in 2010. According to the lawsuit, the juveniles on the basketball team were left unsupervised by the adult coach when the assaults took place.

The allegations of hazing in New Jersey and Olympia both resulted in the coaches ­ the basketball coach in Olympia, and the football coach in New Jersey ­ losing their jobs.

In New Jersey, seven members of the Sayreville War Memorial High School football team have been charged with crimes ranging from hazing to aggravated sexual assault as a result of the hazing accusations.

In Olympia, the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney declined to charge any of the juveniles accused of participating in the alleged hazing incidents. The controversy over the hazing allegations out of Capital High School resulted in bitter divisions among parents of students who were accused of participating in the assaults, and the families of those who were allegedly victimized.

Often in hazing cases involving athletic programs, a “code of silence” pressures student athletes into keeping silent about the abuses perpetrated by other students.

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