SAYREVILLE, N.J. – A week after reports that at least two former high school football players had been cleared of sexual assault charges stemming from a hazing scandal, the school board president on Tuesday insisted that “many crimes” occurred in the high school locker room.
According to NJ Advance Media, School Board President Michael Macagnone, while speaking at Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting, said, “I know for a fact that criminal activity occurred in that locker room.”
The charges against the teenagers are being heard in Family Court, preventing officials from releasing the names of the students or discussing the cases with the press.
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Two of the seven former Sayreville players, including one which East Brunswick attorney Richard Klein represents, were found not guilty of the more serious charges, according to Klein. Attorney Kevin Flood represented the other defendant cleared of the more serious charges. As of last week, one of the defendants was still awaiting trial. The status of the other four accused players is not clear.
Klein, in an interview with NJ Advance Media last week, criticized the prosecution of the case, prompting Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey to respond with a news release that said he was “greatly disappointed” with Klein’s comments, which he characterized as “misleading” and “inappropriate.”
“At the appropriate time, and consistent with the Rules of Professional conduct and our constitutional mandate, a detailed press release will be issued notifying the public of the resolution of the charges filed and appropriately resolved against the seven accused young people,” Carey’s statement read.
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Shortly after Klein made his remarks, a group calling itself “Concerned Sayreville Residents” started an online petition at Moveon.org to oust Sayreville Schools Superintendent Richard Labbe and the entire school board.
The petition has generated little traction, receiving 84 signatures as of late Wednesday afternoon.
“We are still at a loss as to why he (Labbe) felt it necessary to go to the media using what has now proven by a court of law to be inaccurate statements,” the petition reads in part. “Our community is divided, our children are emotionally scarred and reputations are damaged. It is almost a year later and we have still yet to receive an answer. This is completely unacceptable. We are respectfully requesting that the School Ethics Commission of the NJ Dept. of Education open an investigation.”
Labbe could not be immediately reached for comment.
The Sayreville locker room scandal made national headlines last fall.
Three 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. One of those players and the four remaining players were charged with various counts, including aggravated assault, conspiracy, aggravated criminal sexual contact, hazing and riot by participating in the attack of the remaining victims.
Because all of the players were juveniles at the time the charges were filed, their names have not and will not be released in accordance with Family Court protocol. Their cases were and are being adjudicated behind closed doors.