In February 2016, four wrestlers from Norman North High School in Oklahoma were charged with raping two younger boys, The Oklahoman reported.
They were charged with "rape by instrumentation" after two of their teammates reported being sexually assaulted on a team bus, with coaches allegedly nearby.
Sage Griffen Gandenberger, now 18, Chase Denton Smith, now 17, and Hunter Oren Matthews, now 18, initially were charged as juveniles.
Their felony cases were dismissed in July, and each of their juvenile cases has since been dismissed, according to their attorneys.
Tanner Shane Shipman, who was 18 at the time, was charged as an adult. In March, he pleaded no contest to lesser offenses -- two misdemeanor counts of assault and battery. Prosecutors then dismissed his felony case, in which he was charged with three counts of first-degree rape by instrumentation.
The incident occurred Jan. 9, 2016, as the Norman North High School junior varsity wrestling team returned from a tournament in Pauls Valley, police reported.
The victims were 16 and 12 at the time, according to police records.
A psychologist who evaluated the victims said he was told "the activity in question was part of a tradition in wrestling."
The "tradition" was captured on video from a surveillance camera on the bus, with The Oklahoman providing the details when the story first broke.
According to prosecutors, the video shows the four suspects using their fingers to anally penetrate the victims. Police said one of the victims was assaulted for more than six minutes while being held down under the back seat of the bus.
When website Mad World News reposted the original story to Facebook on Sept. 24, it generated a torrent of angry commentary.
"I would sue the bus company the ignorant chicken coward coaches and the school," one reader posted. "These young men did not deserve this. Oh yes. The boys who did this have them castrated. NO anesthesia."
Another posted: "Yep, I'm an old female but after I kicked the living s**t out of them they'd be in the hospital and I'd be in jail. Then I would insist on a jury trial and while I walked they could rot."
Another offered a theological perspective: "For things like this to happen with adults present tells me the end times are closer than one can imagine."
Jane Ward, a professor at the University of California, Riverside, has studied the subject of homoerotic rape in hazing rituals.
In 2015, she delivered a lecture at New York University titled, "Haze Him! White Heteromasculinity, Anal Resilience and The Erotic Spectacle of Repulsion."
As she told the student newspaper, "Hazing is not simply a practice, it is also a heteroerotic trope."
In her talk at NYU, she described the popular hazing tradition known as "crossing the line," in which lines of males retrieve things from each other's anuses with their mouths.
And also the "elephant walk," where males walk in a line while grabbing the penis of the male behind them with one hand and use the other hand to grab the sphincter of the male in front of them.
A 2015 Forbes article named other schools which have allegedly carried on the tradition.
In Milton, Vermont, a criminal investigation revealed Milton football players held initiations that included sexually hazing younger players with broom sticks or pool cues, as reported by the Burlington Free Press.
That hazing case led to criminal convictions for five former players, and one of the victims committed suicide a year after being assaulted.
Sexual hazing also allegedly occurred on the football team at Oak Hills High School in Hesperia, California, the Victorville Daily Press reported, according to Forbes.
In that case, the mother of a football player filed suit against district and school officials, alleging "sexual beatings" and "digital penetration" by older athletes on younger, smaller athletes.
Forbes also listed the following schools as being in the news at the time for alleged sexual hazing cases:
- Delta High School football in Muncie, Indiana
- Tri-City United High School football in Lonsdale, Minnesota
- Freeburg High School soccer in Freeburg, Illinois
- Bountiful High School wrestling in Bountiful, Utah
- Parkview High baseball in Lilburn, Georgia
Reflecting on the tradition of homoerotic hazing, Professor Ward told New York magazine that "despite lacking any pressing reason to do so, men are still manufacturing reasons to touch each other's anuses."
Sources: The Oklahoman (2), Mad World News/Facebook, Washington Square News, Forbes, Burlington Free Press, New York / Featured Image: Pixabay / Embedded Images: Steve Sisney/The Oklahoman, The Oklahoman