Teen athletes accused of sexually abusing teammates

Attacks said to occur at football training camp

October 03, 2003|By John J. Goldman | John J. Goldman,LOS ANGELES TIMES

NEW YORK - A district attorney in Pennsylvania filed multiple felony charges yesterday against three high school varsity football players, accusing them of sexually abusing younger teammates during a preseason training camp.

The members of the Mepham High team from Bellmore, N.Y., were indicted as juveniles after an investigation by authorities and a grand jury in Pennsylvania, where the incidents reportedly took place. The charges included aggravated assault, kidnapping, unlawful restraint and false imprisonment.

Prosecutors said they were considering whether the case could be transferred to adult court. The players, two age 16 and a third age 17, were not publicly identified. Nor were they immediately arrested. Authorities said they would be asked to travel voluntarily to Pennsylvania, but if they declined, warrants would be issued.

The attacks allegedly occurred in August at a camp 125 miles north of Philadelphia, which was attended by 60 players and five coaches from the high school. Authorities said the coaches slept in different cabins from the players. Reports of the alleged incidents surfaced when a parent complained to the high school's principal.

Varsity football coach Kevin McElroy, in his first public statement on the episode, said Tuesday that he saw what reportedly occurred as a criminal act.

"The entire Mepham High School coaching staff would like to offer our sympathy to the students who were victimized and their families," McElroy said. "My coaching staff and I took all foreseeable precautions to insure the safety of our students. ... We have offered our full cooperation to the school district and the Pennsylvania authorities," McElroy said.

At one point during the investigation, Wayne County District Attorney Mark R. Zimmer had complained he was receiving little cooperation from school officials, players and others believed to have knowledge of the alleged incidents - in which a 13-year-old and two 14-year-old boys were said to have been sodomized with a broomstick, pine cones and golf balls.

The grand jury issued subpoenas to the school's principal, and coaching staff, as well as the alleged victims and attackers. Zimmer said school authorities were cooperating with investigators.

"This investigation is far from over," Zimmer said yesterday, labeling the allegations "unspeakable acts."

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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