WALL – At least six Wall Township High School football players have agreed to plea agreements in the recent hazing scandal that will allow them to avoid jail and face probation and community service, according to sources.
A Juvenile Court judge dismissed the most serious charges of criminal sexual contact and false imprisonment, sources confirmed.
But the players pleaded guilty to juvenile charges of hazing and harassment, which may be dropped if the players successfully complete probation sentences of up to one year each.
“The plea offer from the state confirms that this was sophomoric behavior and not at all sexual,” said Christopher Adams, attorney for one of the defendants.
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The players must engage in anti-bullying sessions and perform community service under the plea agreements, the sources said.
A seventh player is also facing sexual assault charges in a separate non-school incident and was not offered the plea deal.
The plea agreements are the latest action in the hazing case that began in November and resulted in the suspensions of the seven students, the dismissal of several coaches and the firing of the former athletic director.
Wall Schools Superintendent Tracy Handerhan and the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office did not respond to requests for comment on the plea deals Sunday.
In January, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office took the unusual step of confirming charges had been filed “against a number of” Wall High School students. Further details were not disclosed because the students were under 18.
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In addition to the school punishments and legal action, three football players have accused several teammates of “viciously” assaulting them and attempting sexual abuse in the locker room on at least two occasions, according to tort claim notices that are required to be filed in advance. of a lawsuit. They also accuse the school district of “carelessness, recklessness and negligence” related to the incidents that allegedly occurred in October.
The claims were filed Jan. 11 by lawyer Austin B. Tobin on behalf of the three unnamed students. Copies of the tort claims were obtained by the Asbury Park Press through an Open Public Records Act request to the district.
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One claim contends that in mid-October, one of the victims was in the Wall High School boys’ locker room prior to an after-school football practice without adult supervision.
The attorney states in the claim that the assailants were “allowed to viciously assault” the unnamed victim and “put their hands down (his) pants and also attempted to penetrate (his) anus.”
It also claims that this was not the first time such abuse had occurred, stating, “the assault / battery, which is captured on video, was not stopped or otherwise interrupted at any time by any employee… despite the fact that (the assailants) had subjected other members of Wall High School’s varsity football team to similar assault / batteries on multiple prior occasions. ”
Two other tort claims offered similar accusations, but cited a specific date, Oct. 27, as the day that they occurred.
Armen McOmber, one of the attorneys representing the three students, said his clients must wait six months from the time of the tort claim filing with the school district to file a lawsuit against the district.
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Wall’s final two football games of the 2021 season – against Delsea in the state playoffs and the annual Thanksgiving Day game against Manasquan – were canceled by the Board of Education after the allegations became public.
The football team investigation related to several alleged incidents that occurred in September and October.
The Board of Education recently reached settlement agreements with the families of six of the suspended students that have allowed them to return to classes. Each student agreed to perform unspecified community service and is barred from participating in spring sports or attending the junior prom.
The Board of Education in February hired former Manalapan head coach Ed Gurrieri to oversee the Wall football program next fall, while also bringing in interim athletic director Nicholas Pizzulli.
Joe Strupp is an award-winning journalist with 30 years’ experience who covers education and several local communities for APP.com and the Asbury Park Press. He is also the author of three books, including Killing Journalism on the state of the news media, and an adjunct media professor at Rutgers University and Fairleigh Dickinson University. Reach him at email@example.com and at 732-413-3840. Follow him on Twitter at @joestrupp