NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — Six of the seven football players accused of hazing and sexual assaulting four other teammates in a New Jersey high school locker room were placed on probationary terms, prosecutors announced Monday night.
Each of the Sayreville War Memorial players will also have to serve 50 hours of community service as part of their sentences, but they will not have to register as sex offenders.
The sentences were imposed by a Family Court judge after four of the six players pleaded guilty to child endangerment and hazing, Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey said. Those four were placed on probation for two years, while the two others received a year of probation following a Family Court trial.
Carey said the victims and their families were consulted about the plea deals.
The seventh player is awaiting a Family Court trial, though a trial date has not been set.
"The facts that were alleged by the (prosecutor's office) at the beginning of this case have clearly been proven in a court of law," Carey said. "The community of Sayreville needs to know that these serious crimes occurred, and now must work together to heal."
The seven players were accused of playing roles in the attacks, which authorities said occurred in four separate incidents at the high school in September 2014. The school's longtime football coach was removed from the job and eventually transferred to a different school in the district.
The team's 2014 season was canceled days before the players were accused. That caused an uproar in Sayreville, where residents debated how the allegations should be handled.
Authorities have not released the names of the seven players because they are juveniles.
Carey said that while the players were charged with serious sexual offenses, the cases were resolved in accordance with juvenile laws and in the best interests of the juvenile defendants, the victims and their families.
"While the Code of Juvenile Justice provides confidentiality for the protection of juveniles, that confidentiality, unfortunately, allows for certain individuals to unscrupulously mislead the public as to what occurred at the school and during juvenile proceedings," Carey said.