WAYNE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Wayne Hills High School began its playoff run Friday night will all of its players, despite the fact that nine were charged this week with aggravated assault.
In the stands, there was near unanimity over the decision to allow the accused star receiver, 18-year-old Andrew Monaghan, and eight juveniles on the field.
“There’s three sides to every story. His, hers, the truth, and what happened in between and you shouldn’t persecute and judge children until you know the facts,” one parent said.
“I think it’s a great call,” another parent said.
Police said Monaghan and the eight others assaulted two teens from another high school following a party last month. The players allegedly got out of a car, surrounded the victims and attacked. The motive, police said, seems to stem from an argument at the party.
“They got out, began hitting them, knocking them to the ground and once on the ground they were stomped and kicked,” said Wayne Police Chief John Reardon.
One of the victims was knocked unconscious. Both were out of the hospital Friday and have recovered.
Wayne’s school district points to state law that essentially says it can’t punish a student for anything he or she does not related to a school activity.
“An accusation doesn’t necessarily mean you’re guilty of something. It doesn’t mean something should be taken away from you without the opportunity to prove your innocence,” said Superintendent Michael Roth.
“Police charge people with a lot of things all the time. That’s why there’s a court system, so I think they should be allowed to play,” said parent Gary Hirsh.
Away from the field, however, some had a different take.
“Should not have played,” one resident said. “Because just like what’s going on with Penn State, it wasn’t right, and they should be held accountable for it.”
“They’re not being punished for something that they did, even if it wasn’t on school grounds,” said resident Ashley Shenice.
Wayne Hills is known for its successful football program, with seven state titles in the past decade and a coach, Chris Olsen, whose son, Greg Olsen, is a tight end for the Carolina Panthers.
“Excellent football team. Coach Olsen basically for the past 10 years has surpassed any of our expectations,” resident Brian Gorkowski said.
“They should play until they’re proven guilty,” Gorkowski said.
It is believed, if found guilty, it is unlikely the accused players will face any jail time.
Should the students be allowed to play? Sound off in our comments section below…