The locker room at Damascus High School was unsupervised when four players allegedly sexually assaulted teammates with a broomstick on Oct. 31, Montgomery County school officials said Tuesday, according to the Washington Post.
Junior varsity coaches were late to their jobs on Oct. 31 and did not make arrangements with a different supervisor, Superintendent Jack Smith said in a community letter obtained by the Washington Post.
During that 25-minute period without the coaches, four players allegedly sexually assaulted teammates with broomsticks in a hazing act.
The suspects, all of whom were also 14 or 15 years old when the incident occurred, face charges of rape, attempted rape or both, according to the Washington Post.
“While there is nothing to suggest the coaches could have reasonably expected a sexual assault to occur in the locker room in the absence of supervision, the lack of protocols in place to ensure coverage in the locker room is unacceptable,” Smith’s letter said, according to Bethesda Magazine.
The Damascus athletic director and junior varsity coaching staff is being replaced, according to the magazine. Last week, junior varsity coach Vincent Colbert was placed on administrative leave.
In addition, Principal Casey Crouse resigned last week. Bathesda Magazine reported she now works as an administrator on special assignment at the school system central office.
Smith’s letter comes five days after a public meeting with the Montgomery County school board in which parents questioned the Damascus security and why it took so long for the suspected assaults to be reported to police.
Instead of immediately reporting allegations, Principal Casey Crouse pulled victims and suspects from class to question them, according to the Washington Post.
It took more than 12 hours for suspicions to be reported to police.
The letter Smith penned defended the process Damascus took, saying the school’s investigation “concluded that there is insufficient evidence at this time to suggest undue delay in reporting the incident,” while acknowledging it may look different in hindsight.
He did announce that Damascus’ football program has been placed on probation, according to Bethesda Magazine.
During this one-year period, the school system will monitor the football program.