Pennsylvania prosecutors have charged 10 high school students for their alleged involvement in multiple hazing incidents.
The investigation began after police received a report on Aug. 12 about a video posted on social media. In it, a Middletown High School football player appeared to be assaulted during practice, Dauphin County District Attorney Francis T. Chardo said in a statement Tuesday.
During a month-long investigation, authorities interviewed over 80 people regarding the alleged assault and police were able to determine that on Aug. 11 three students were sexually assaulted in the school's turf room within the span of 23 minutes while there was no adult supervision, the district attorney's office said.
Throughout the course of the investigation authorities also discovered that three other students were allegedly assaulted in various instances over the last year, including during one incident at a residence, district attorney's office said.
In total, the investigation found six student athletes, who ranged in age from 14 to 16 years old, were assaulted. The district attorney's office filed charges in relation to all six cases.
Prosecutors said two 17-year-old students were the main perpetrators in all the incidents, and they were charged with multiple counts of criminal attempt to commit involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault, unlawful restraint, simple assault, and hazing.
Others charged include a 16-year-old student who was charged with unlawful restraint, simple assault, and hazing; three students, aged 16 and 17, were charged with unlawful restraint and hazing; and four students, ages 16 and 17, charged with violating the hazing statute, prosecutors said.
The district attorney's office has indicated that all the cases will be handled through the juvenile system.
"This investigation did not involve just hazing or 'boys will be boys' conduct," Chief Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Gettle said in a statement. "Rather, two of these individuals committed repeated sexual assaults and encouraged others to participate under the guise of hazing,"
The district attorney's office said that investigators have determined that none of the coaches or school administrators had knowledge of the alleged incidents until it was reported to the police. Once informed, the Middletown Area School District immediately removed all of the alleged perpetrators from the school.
"The school district went above and beyond to ensure that it cooperated completely with the police investigation," Chardo said.
Following the announcement of the charges, Middletown Area School District Superintendent Dr. Chelton Hunter released a statement expressing "disappointment" with the students. Hunter said that the district will be working with experts to address hazing and will implement a plan to prevent further similar incidents.
"We are looking forward as we engage in the implementation of our districtwide plan that our administrative team and staff developed to address any concerns about culture," Hunter said. "Ultimately, moving forward, we must work collaboratively as a community of parents, coaches, and educators to best serve and support our students."
Middletown is located about 100 miles northwest of Philadelphia.
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