A dozen student-athletes in Virginia are facing a one-year suspension from their Virginia high school for an alleged locker room incident, and their classmates are rallying to their defense.
Culpeper (Va.) County Public Schools suspended 12 members of the high school’s football and baseball teams for the maximum of 10 days, while recommending the district’s disciplinary board wield its power and extend that ban to one year, according to the Culpeper Star-Exponent.
The allegations are unclear, although the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star reported them to be of sexual nature in the school’s locker room during the spring and fall of 2015. Parents described the alleged conduct as a prank, according to the Free Lance-Star report. Meanwhile, the school refused to comment beyond a statement announcing the suspensions, citing an ongoing investigation.
“In March of this year, the Culpeper County High School administration was made aware of allegations of misconduct involving some its student-athletes. Thereafter, school administration initiated an investigation, which continues, into the alleged conduct and that investigation has resulted in the initiation of disciplinary action against 12 student-athletes. Because student disciplinary proceedings are pending, and to safeguard student privacy, the division cannot and will not comment more specifically about those disciplinary actions or the nature of the alleged conduct. As is its practice, Administration is in the process of reviewing its existing policies and procedures to determine if any changes should be considered regarding the administration of school athletic programs.”
Likewise, the Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office conducted its own investigation, but did not file criminal charges after the students involved refused to file charges, according to multiple reports.
The parent of one suspended athlete called it a “witch hunt,” per the Culpeper Star-Exponent, and Culpeper County junior Breglyne Johnson agreed during an interview with NBC4 Washington.
“The tension in the school is extreme right now, and I know one of the moms described it as a ‘witch hunt,’ and that’s how we all feel,” Johnson told the local television news. “They’re future is down the drain because of these allegations, and it’s just not fair.”
Johnson has made more than 300 wristbands featuring phrases such as “NO 365” and “FREE OUR BOYS” — the latter of which was chanted during the school’s prom on Saturday, per reports. Additionally, students gathered in the school’s cafeteria for a sit-in on May 5 in a show of support.
Culpeper County Public Schools has a whole of questions to answer in the next phase of its investigation — chief among them: What did these kids do to deserve such drastic discipline?