Four students from Damascus High School have been charged as adults for an alleged locker room sexual assault at the school on Halloween of this year. Five players in total were charged, with four being charged as adults and the fifth remaining in juvenile court. The four charged as adults were released on bond Monday, November 26.
Jean Claude Abedi, Kristian Jamal Lee, Will Daniel Smith, and Caleb Thorpe, all 15 years old, have each been charged with two counts of first-degree rape, two counts of attempted first-degree rape, and two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree rape. All four individuals were members of the school’s junior varsity football team.
There were four victims in the alleged sexual assault, which involved the use of a broomstick in a “hazing” ritual. All four victims were freshmen and also members of the Damascus JV football team.
Attorney contributor Aaron Blank helps survivors of sexual assault find justice and support by filing civil lawsuits. We have asked him for some insight into the legal options available to those who have been sexually assaulted in hazing rituals of high school athletics programs:
Hazing rituals are a common practice in both high schools and colleges throughout the country, especially in athletics programs. While some hazing rituals may be relatively harmless (such as new members of the team picking up donuts for the seniors), others cross the line and constitute harassment and abuse. In some cases, hazing rituals even involve sexual assault. Sometimes, coaches look the other way or even encourage abuse and assault during these rituals.
When a student is sexually assaulted during a hazing ritual, it’s important to punish those responsible and make sure that the victim gets the justice and support they deserve. In many cases, the school is negligent for failing to prevent or even enabling the abuse, such as situations where a coach was aware of what was going on but failed to stop it. In these cases, the victims and their families may have grounds for a lawsuit against the school.
If you or a loved one has been sexually abused as part of a hazing ritual on a high school or college campus, the legal system is here to help. You can learn more about your legal options by speaking to one of our experienced sexual assault survivors attorneys.