High School Football Players Charged in Alleged Hazing

Three high school football (search) players were charged Thursday with sodomizing younger teammates during a hazing (search) at a preseason training camp.

The teens have been under investigation by authorities and a grand jury in Pennsylvania for allegedly sexually torturing the teammates with a broomstick, pine cones and golf balls during the Aug. 22-27 camp in Preston Park, about 125 miles north of Philadelphia.

State police said the alleged victims, a 13-year-old and two 14-year-old boys, were threatened, beaten and then violated with foreign objects covered in a pain-relieving cream. Two of the suspects are 16, the other is 17.

The suspects, members of the Mepham High School (search) football team in Bellmore, N.Y., face a list of juvenile court charges, including involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, kidnapping, aggravated assault, unlawful restraint and false imprisonment.

Sixty players and five coaches from the team attended the camp. Officials said the coaches slept in a different cabin from the players and were unaware of any problems until a parent complained to a principal at the high school.

None of the teens has been arrested. They will be asked to voluntarily travel to Pennsylvania to face the charges, and warrants will be issued if they refuse, prosecutor Mark R. Zimmer said.

Investigators are still trying to determine if charges against other students or adults are appropriate.

The Long Island school suspended three players from the team pending the outcome of the investigation, and the Bellmore-Merrick school district canceled the team's season.

The names of the players who were charged were not released Thursday and it was not immediately clear if the defendants were the three suspended players.

Larry Spern, an attorney for one of the suspended players, would not confirm whether the boy he represents was among those charged. He said he could not comment on the charges.

Attorneys for two of the other suspended teens did not immediately return phone calls.

While the teens were charged as juveniles, Zimmer said he is considering whether to transfer the case to an adult court. If they are charged as adults and convicted, the teens could face significant jail terms.

"We are hoping that Mr. Zimmer will do everything in his power to ensure that (the suspects) are prosecuted as adults," Robert P. Kelly, an attorney for two of the alleged victims. "This goes way over any juvenile hazing."

Bellmore-Merrick Superintendent Thomas Caramore said he was "encouraged that the process is moving forward and that justice will be served."