SAYREVILLE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Some members of the Sayreville High School football team accused of locker room hazing rituals made their first court appearance Tuesday, prosecutors confirmed to CBS 2.
However, because they are juveniles, no more information could be given. The suspects have not been identified.
Sources tell CBS 2 a sheriff’s van took away at least three of the seven Sayreville High School football players still in custody and charged with sexual assault from Middlesex County Family Court on Tuesday.
The media was not allowed inside the courtroom or given any details on what happened inside, CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported.
“When you look at this case in this town, a football town, what we find here is likely going on in other places around the country at the college as well as high school level,” legal expert Rikkie Klieman said on “CBS This Morning.”
The football players from the high school were charged Friday with sexually assaulting and violating four younger teammates in their team locker room during several alleged hazing rituals.
The last of the suspects turned himself over to police Saturday.
One man at the courthouse Tuesday, believed to be an attorney representing one of the suspects, did not want to comment.
Three were charged with aggravated sexual assault, criminal restraint, hazing and other crimes stemming from an act of sexual penetration upon one of the children. The other four students were charged with aggravated criminal sexual contact and other charges.
Sources tell Sloan there are no plans to charge the suspects as adults as of now.
If they were to be charged as adults, the three students charged with aggravated sexual assault could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.
Klieman said there could be a reason the prosecutor decides to keep them in the juvenile system.
“The juveniles will say through their lawyers, ‘Look, I didn’t know this was a crime. This happened to me when I was a freshman. I didn’t think it was doing anything bad. I was a victim of hazing, so I went forward the same way,’” she said.
All seven players have been suspended from school, and the superintendent has canceled the football program.
Authorities say they won’t give information on the case while the defendants are in the juvenile system.
School officials also won’t say if the coaches on the team will keep their jobs. So far, the superintendent says there is no evidence they were aware of the alleged sexual abuse.
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