Five former football players at a high school in Vermont pleaded not guilty to charges that they sexually assaulted younger players in a hazing initiation incident.
People in Milton say they’re shocked to learn that the Milton High School players may have assaulted at least five former teammates using broomsticks or pool cues, reports Burlington Free Press. The incidences reportedly took place during the 2011-2012 football season and one of the alleged victims has since committed suicide, though court documents state there is no direct correlation between his death and the alleged hazing, reports MyChamplainValley.com.
Another victim says he didn’t want to report the assault because Principal Anne Blake threatened to “shut down” football season if something happened and he feared the entire school would “hate” him.
The boys who will stand trial have been identified as William Jenkins, 18, Brian Lasell, 19, Brandon Beliveau, 20, Colby Darling, 20 and Ryan Carlson, 20. Court documents state that the sexual assault may have taken place in more than one location, including the school’s locker room.
“We will probably be meeting with our athletes, I’m going to recommend that we meet fall, winter, and spring, and we talk about hazing and how it’s not tolerated,” said John Barone, the Milton Schools Superintendent.
Hazing is not a crime in Vermont, according to Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan. Milton’s football team has reportedly gained a bad reputation for hazing, and its rituals change each year, according to a police affidavit.
“It is fair to say that it was a culture that existed within the Milton football team,” Donovan said. “We have to make sure that this doesn’t happen to any other kid in any other school on any other team in the state of Vermont.”
All five of the suspects have since graduated from Milton High School. If found guilty, the former students could be sentenced to a maximum of one year in prison, a thousand dollar fine, or both.