SAYREVILLE, N.J. — As dozens of Sayreville High School football players and their parents gathered at a school board meeting on Tuesday night to protest the district’s decision to shut down the program, a national media outlet, citing a source close to the investigation, said law enforcement is looking into whether upperclassmen digitally penetrated underclassmen on the team.
SI.com, citing sources, including one close to the investigation, reported Tuesday night that the substantiated allegations of pervasive and wide-scale incidents of harassment, intimidation and bullying within the program are lewd.
Thomas Buck, a former Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor, told MyCentralJersey.com that if the allegations are sexual in nature, “you are looking at hypothetically a first-degree charge – digital penetration – so this (investigation) isn’t something that should be and won’t be wrapped up in the short term.”
At the end of a contentious meeting, the individual members of the Board of Education unanimously supported the decision of Superintendent Dr. Richard Labbe to cancel the remainder of the season.
Labbe’s decision has been received with mixed emotions in the community.
“I really agree with what the superintendent has done,” said borough resident Jackie DePasquale, a teacher in a nearby town. “I feel that some people are not aware of the strick HIB — harassment, intimidation and bullying — laws. Because of that the superintendent had to do this. If he would not have done anything at all and somebody would have committed suicide, which is unfortunately a trend that has been happening because of bullying, there would have been a very different opinion from the parents. I know it was a tough decision, especially in a football powerhouse like Sayreville, but it is a decision that had to be done because of how crazy these bullying incidents have been.
“I’m a huge football fan and I understand what these kids are going through,” added DePasquale, the mother of two young children. “That’s huge to these kids, but at the same time, looking at it and seeing how bullying effects these kids, it’s there. For him to have made this decision, it couldn’t have just been any regular bullying. It definitely must have been something further along, and I’m curious to see what comes out of it. I feel a lot more confident knowing my kids will go to a district where the HIB laws are enforced. I feel very good about that.”
“I think they made the right decision, but they shouldn’t punish everyone,” said borough resident Steve Randazzo, a graduate of the high school. “I can see canceling a couple of games, but not the whole season. I just can’t see that. My kid went to high school there and he played football for four years. The coaches are great. Coach (George) Najjar is a real gentlemen. It’s very sad. A lot of residents look forward to going to the games. It’s a big thing around here.”
For more on this story, click here.
To see our complete coverage of the Sayreville situation, click here.