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Charges In Football Camp Hazing

Prosecutors filed criminal charges Thursday against three high school football players accused of hazing and sexually abusing younger teammates at a training camp in Pennsylvania.

The teens, members of the Mepham High School football team in Bellmore, N.Y., face a list of juvenile court charges, including involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, kidnapping, aggravated assault, unlawful restraint and false imprisonment.

Police and a Wayne County grand jury have been investigating allegations that the teens, who were ages 15, 16, and 17, sodomized younger players with a broomstick, pine cones and golf balls during an Aug. 22-27 trip to Camp Wayne for Girls in Preston Park, Pa.

Sixty players and five coaches from the team attended the camp. Officials said the coaches slept in a different cabin from the players and were unaware of any problems until a parent complained to a principal at the high school.

None of the teens has been arrested. They will be asked to voluntarily travel to Pennsylvania to face the charges, and warrants will be issued if they refuse, District Attorney Mark R. Zimmer said.

Investigators are still trying to determine if charges against other students or adults are appropriate.

The school suspended three players from the team pending the outcome of the investigation, and the Bellmore-Merrick school district canceled the team's season.

The names of the players who were charged were not released Thursday and it was not immediately clear if the defendants were the three suspended players.

Larry Spern, an attorney for one of the suspended players, would not confirm whether the boy he represents was among those charged. He said he could not comment on the charges.

Attorneys for two of the other suspended teens did not immediately return phone calls.

While the teens were charged as juveniles, Zimmer said he is considering whether to transfer the case to an adult court. If they are charged as adults and convicted, the teens could face significant jail terms.

Robert P. Kelly, an attorney for two of the alleged victims, said harsh treatment of the suspects is warranted.

"We are hoping that Mr. Zimmer will do everything in his power to ensure that (the suspects) are prosecuted as adults," Kelly said. "This goes way over any juvenile hazing."