‘No Gay Thursday:’ 3 High School Football Players Sexually Assault Teen With Broom

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Three senior football players at Conestoga High School in Pennsylvania have been charged with assault for allegedly pinning down and forcibly inserting a broom handle into a freshman teammate’s anus last October as part of a weekly hazing ritual known at the school as “No Gay Thursday.”

Two of the players held down the 14-year-old freshman while a third penetrated him with the broom, said District Attorney Tom Hogan.

“That’s over 400 pounds of senior holding down this freshman,” Hogan said. Hogan noted that the victim was 5-foot-7 and weighed about 160 pounds and was targeted because the three seniors, one of them a team captain, took a dislike to him.

Hogan says the reason the three weren’t charged with as sexual offense was because, “From our perspective, it’s a physical assault and not a sex crime.”

“This is a simple case about ignorance, violence, and a lack of supervision,” Hogan said. He confirmed that hazing incidents have been occurring for at least the last three years at the school.

The Tredyffrin/Easttown School District says it will conduct its own “top priority” investigation looking into the “level of supervision provided by the coaching staff.”

The incident that led to the charges took place in October, Hogan said, adding that the student has since left the school.

Philly.com reports:

Hogan said that Conestoga students avoided the locker room on Thursdays and that some quit football to avoid hazing.

Football coaches said they were unaware of the hazing, however students participating in other sports knew, Hogan said, adding, “This was the worst-kept secret in the world.”

“There’s nothing I can say right now,” Conestoga head football coach John Vogan said Friday, referring all questions to a school district official.

Will Klein, 16, said he had heard students say casually, “‘Oh, it’s No-Gay Thursday,'” but didn’t know about physical abuse. “I thought it was a joke,” he said. “I didn’t think it was a real thing.”

Hogan said upperclassmen football players created “No-Gay Thursdays” as days on which certain sexual behavior was permissible.

Upperclassmen put their genitals on younger students’ heads and also ground their bodies against their legs. They also forced younger students to strip to their underwear and clean the locker room, Hogan said. They smacked their fellow students on their behinds and backs hard enough to leave marks, he said.

The three, all 17 at the time, were charged as juveniles with assault, unlawful restraint, making terroristic threats, and related offenses.

Many social-media commenters argued that the students should have been tried as adults.

But Hogan said the victim’s family approved of the decision to charge the three as juveniles. If the family wanted them charged as adults, “We would have taken that into consideration,” he said.

Two of the students were processed on Thursday. The third is out of state and will be processed on Monday, Hogan said.

Located in Berwyn, Conestoga is routinely ranked among the top public schools in the state for academics.

About a month ago, school officials announced police were investigating reports of hazing.

Hazing allegations prompted the canceling of football seasons in 2014 at Central Bucks High School West and Sayreville War Memorial High School in Middlesex County, N.J.

Police did not file criminal charges in Bucks County. Officials did file sexual assault and hazing charges in the Middlesex County case, but the players were acquitted in court.