Deeply disturbing details have emerged in connection with a high school football investigation in Vermont, where a school’s program allegedly engaged in sexual hazing that included the use of broomsticks.
As reported in far greater detail by our Gannett brethren at the Burlington Free Press, five former Milton High School football players plead not guilty to charges of simple assault relating to their part in hazing rituals while they were still students at the school. The quintet of defendants were all had appeals to be tried as juveniles rejected despite their age during the 2011 and 2012 seasons, the time of the alleged crimes.
The charges follow a wide ranging investigation into the hazing in the Milton program, with more than 90 interviews preceding the filing of charges. The investigation was sparked when a Milton football player attempted to commit suicide after complaining about being “raped” by members of the football team.
That rape incident allegedly involved a broomstick and multiple members of the Milton team holding their teammate down on the ground.
While the actions alleged of the five defendants are outrageously heinous, their behavior during the investigation was allegedly little better. According to the Free Press, one defendant, 18-year-old William Jenkins, attempted to undermine the investigation by proactively reaching out to others in the program and insisting that they not talk to or cooperate with police.
The investigation has taken a significant toll on the town of Milton, with three coaches — including former head coach Chris Hughes — leaving the program and the town after news of the hazing broke. Their departure could pave the way for an easier cultural shift away from any hazing, though investigators insisted that will likely take time.
“It is fair to say that it was a culture that existed within the Milton football team,” said T.J. Donovan, Chittenden County state’s attorney. “We have to make sure that this doesn’t happen to any other kid in any other school on any other team in the state of Vermont.”