HONESDALE, Pa. – A judge decided Wednesday whether three teenage boys accused of sexually assaulting three younger teammates at an overnight football camp (search) would be tried as adults or juveniles, but ordered the decision sealed.
The outraged reaction outside the courthouse from relatives of the alleged victims suggested the judge decided against trying the three students from Mepham High School (search) in Bellmore, N.Y., as adults.
"What a message he's sending to America, he's telling juveniles to come to Pennsylvania to commit a crime," Kris Reichstein, mother of a Mepham student, who traveled to the hearing in support of the alleged victims.
David Woycik, an attorney for one of the alleged victims, said he could not talk about the hearing, but told an aunt of one of the alleged victims, "This thing is not over, the judge can keep them under detention here for a long time, until they're 21."
Wayne County District Attorney Mark Zimmer (search) said the judge ordered him not to disclose the ruling under penalty of contempt. He declined further comment.
The three Long Island students had been charged with numerous felonies for allegedly sodomizing younger teammates with broomsticks, pine cones and golf balls during a weeklong summer training camp in August in Preston Park, about 125 miles north of Philadelphia.
Prosecutors had asked that the students be tried in adult court, where they could face prison sentences if convicted.
About 50 supporters of the alleged victims gathered outside the courthouse in Honesdale on Wednesday, some wearing green ribbons and holding signs with slogans including, "Prison, not probation," and "Sodomy doesn't equal probation."
Woycik said criminal hearings would be held in the coming weeks and he would pursue a civil case against the school district.
Relatives said the three alleged victims' mothers testified during the hearing, which began in the early afternoon. The three alleged victims did not testify. The judge relied on written depositions from them.
The team's head coach, Kevin McElroy, did not speak to reporters after emerging from the courthouse.
After the allegations became public the Bellmore-Merrick school board canceled the team's season. It has since informed McElroy and four other football coaches that they will not participate in the athletic program next year.