New Jersey’s top-performing high school football team is the center of a hazing investigation scandal after a video surfaced reportedly showing upper-class players using a broomstick to pin down a younger victim ‘with the intent of sodomy.’
Wall Township High School playoffs have been canceled, and an investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office has led to at least one arrest, PIX11 News reported.
A spokesperson from the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) confirmed on Thursday more than one member of the school district has been placed on administrative leave.
Parents handed to authorities a video that reportedly shows six older players holding down their younger fellow teammate with a broomstick handle inside the locker room, as the terrified child pleads with them to stop.
While the recording does not explicitly show sodomy, parents said that was clearly the intent.
‘I just can’t believe this is happening,’ a parent told NJ Advance Media. ‘I would never dream of ever treating someone like this. It’s disturbing, and I think everyone’s main concern is that it’s going to be covered up because of the size of the program.’
After the sexual assault and hazing allegations were raised, the board of education ‘immediately contacted law enforcement and appropriate state agencies,’ the school said in a statement.
Wall Township High School playoffs have been canceled, and an investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office has led to at least one arrest amid hazing and sexual-assault allegations raised by parents in the school
In a statement, the school said they had ‘immediately contacted law enforcement and appropriate state agencies’
Outraged parents have also made claims that some of the coaches were fully aware of the hazing culture and harassment present within the team and failed to report the assaults to authorities.
On Thursday, the NJEA announced that some members of the districts were placed on leave amid the probe.
‘An attorney was assigned to the NJEA members involved,’ said a spokesperson. ‘We have no further information about what may have taken place.’
They have not specified how many members have been suspended or their position in the district.
‘They keep calling it hazing, that’s not hazing – that’s sexual assault,’ a parent who chose to remain anonymous told PIX11.
Wall Township Board of Education President Ralph Addonizio maintained in a statement that school officials dutifully contacted law enforcement once the video came to light.
Wall Township High School parents handed to authorities a video that reportedly shows six older players holding down their victim with a broomstick handle inside the locker room
‘They keep calling it hazing, that’s not hazing – that’s sexual assault,’ a parent who chose to remain anonymous said about the school’s response to the allegations
‘Upon becoming aware of the allegation, we immediately contacted the appropriate authorities,’ Addonizio said. ‘There’s a pending investigation, and the school district is cooperating fully. We cannot comment further on a pending investigation of a student matter.’
The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office said it will not be confirming or denying any details about the investigation as it involves minors.
Tracy Henderman, Wall Township High School superintendent, said: ‘Because of this pending investigation, and after consultation with the board counsel, administration and the office of the Monmouth County Interim Executive County Superintendent, the football game scheduled for this Friday is canceled.’
The team was scheduled to play Delsea Regional High School Friday in a semi-final that could have launched them to the state championship.
After the school pulled out of the tournament, Ken Schould, an athletic director at Delsea, told NJ Advance Media that he believed it was the right decision.
‘It’s bigger than football. Just a bigger lesson to be learned,’ he said.
Wall Township resident Scott Arnone also supported the measure in a Facebook Group for members of the community and added that he did not believe this was an isolated incident.
The team was scheduled to play Delsea Regional High School Friday in a semi-final that could have launched them to the state championship
Wall Township resident Scott Arnone also supported the measure in a Facebook group for members of the community and added that he did not believe this was an isolated incident
On Facebook, some residents shared their discontent with the games being canceled, citing how it will affect children who were not involved with the assaults
Arnone wrote: ‘What is alleged to have happened is not something that just randomly pops up. It’s part of a culture that allows it to permeate. Sadly good kids in this organization will be considered guilty by association.
‘There is also the possibility that even the good kids were aware of this culture and did not speak up about it out of fear,’ he added. ‘Ultimately they are a part of and affiliated with an organization where a crime is alleged to have been committed. In cases like this even the innocent are unfortunately part of the collateral damage.’
Others, however, shared their discontent with the game being canceled, citing how it will affect children who were not involved with the assaults.
‘Kids who did not participate, who are not guilty, should not be punished by canceling games,’ commented Facebook user Katie Binns.
Another user contended: ‘Are you kidding me. How deranged can you be to think that’s important right now. These kids should be in therapy or jail depending on their part in this, not on a field.’
According to NJ Advance Media, committee members didn’t address the investigation at the Wall Township Committee meeting on Wednesday night.
‘Sad, whatever’s going on, is all I’ll say,’ Deputy Mayor Daniel Becht said after leaving the meeting.