PHILADELPHIA – A grand jury is investigating allegations that high school football players from New York sexually assaulted teammates during a hazing (search) ritual at a preseason training camp, a prosecutor said Monday.
State police and the grand jury are investigating whether members of the Mepham High School football team (search) in Bellmore, N.Y., sodomized younger players with a broomstick, pine cones and golf balls during a five-day trip to the Camp Wayne for Girls (search) in Preston Park, Pa., said the Wayne County, Pa., District Attorney, Mark R. Zimmer.
Zimmer called the allegations, "disgusting and horrific."
Sixty players and five coaches with the team attended the camp last month. Officials said the coaches slept in a different cabin from students and were unaware of any problems until a parent complained.
Mepham High School suspended three players following the allegations. The Bellmore-Merrick school district canceled the team's entire season last week, citing evidence that "a significant majority" of the team's players violated the district's code of conduct.
Zimmer told a news conference the investigation had been slowed by the reluctance of school district administrators, coaches and students to cooperate with state police.
School officials, he said, have asked to be served with subpoenas before they release written statements gathered from witnesses during the district's internal inquiry. He said the grand jury has already issued several subpoenas, which will be served shortly in New York.
Zimmer said students who witnessed or had knowledge of the alleged assault have generally been afraid to come forward. He asked anyone with knowledge of the alleged attacks to cooperate with police.
Superintendent Thomas Caramore said in a statement that the school district wants to help police, but is barred by federal law from releasing information about students without a subpoena or parents' consent.
"We do not understand why the Pennsylvania district attorney's office has waited until now to serve a subpoena," Caramore wrote.
Preston Park is 125 miles north of Philadelphia.