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Seven members of New Jersey's Sayreville War Memorial High School football team are facing criminal charges after allegations of locker room hazing surfaced in recent weeks.
The players, all juveniles, may be tried as adults on the charges, reports The New York Times. In addition, school district Superintendent Dr. Richard Labbe has cancelled the remainder of this year's schedule for the perennial powerhouse team.
What are the details behind the hazing allegations, and what are the rules for juveniles accused of crimes being tried as adults?
The arrested players are accused of perpetrating a hazing ritual in which freshmen players were subjected to repeated assaults, some of which were sexual in nature, according to the Times. Upperclassmen would reportedly pin down younger students and encourage other upperclassmen to assault the younger student in what some players described as a hazing tradition that had been taking place over multiple seasons.
The charges against the players arrested include aggravated sexual assault in association with "an act of sexual penetration" against three of the players, with four others facing charges of aggravated assault.
Although the players were all charged as juveniles, prosecutors may choose to move the players' cases into the adult justice system. New Jersey, like most states, charges criminals under 18 as juveniles, allowing their cases to proceed through the juvenile court system, where criminal penalties and sentences are generally less severe.
But prosecutors can choose to apply for a judicial waiver to transfer a juvenile case to criminal court for offenders over the age of 14 who are accused of committing certain serious crimes, which in New Jersey includes sexual assault and aggravated assault.
Under New Jersey's waiver rules, the waiver to move the case out of juvenile court must be filed within 30 days of receipt of the complaint. The players, arrested over the weekend, are set to appear in court this week, according to the Times.
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