None of the seven Sayreville High School football players criminally charged in connection with the hazing and sexual assault of four teammates inside the team’s locker room will be tried as adults, according to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s office.
“The conduct in which the juvenile defendants engaged was serious and that is why criminal charges were filed,” Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey said in a statement. “The appropriate forum for the resolution of these cases is Middlesex County Family Court. Asking the court to waive these seven juvenile cases to adult court would not best serve the interests of the victims, the community, or the defendants.”
Richard Klein, an attorney from East Brunswick, said Carey’s decision to not ask a judge to waive any of the players, aged 15 to 17, to adult criminal court was “the appropriate decision under the circumstances.”
The decision means the juvenile defendants, if convicted, will face lesser penalties than if they were found guilty in adult court, and that their identities should remain protected because all juvenile court records are sealed.
According to the statement, the juvenile defendants remain under house arrest and in the custody of their parents.
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Robert Bianchi, a former Morris County prosecutor, called Carey’s decision “gut-wrenching” and said he believed it will not make everyone happy.
“This is a very complex case for a prosecutor,” Bianchi said. “A lot of people don’t understand the pressure a prosecutor is under. People are going to argue on both sides of the equation. Half the people are going to be hateful (of Carey’s decision) one way or the other. This is not a clear-cut scenario.”
The Sayreville high school football program was thrust into the national spotlight on Oct. 5 when Schools Superintendent Rick Labbe canceled the remainder of the season amid allegations of locker room misconduct.
Five days later, seven players were criminally charged in four separate incidents that took place inside the team’s locker room over a 10-day span beginning Sept. 19.
Three of the players were charged with aggravated sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, conspiracy to commit aggravated criminal sexual contact, criminal restraint and hazing for engaging in an act of sexual penetration upon one of the juvenile victims.
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