Damascus, MD – Some of the Damascus High School freshman football players who were sexually assaulted with broomsticks by four of their fellow teammates may have been targeted because they are the sons of law enforcement officers.
Just days before the Oct. 31, 2018 locker room attack, the alleged ringleader of the group accused of sodomizing the boys told one of his future victims, “I know your dad is a police officer,” WJLA reported.
He also allegedly demanded that the teen take of the Montgomery County Police Special Olympics t-shirt he was wearing.
“Take that f--king shirt off!” the alleged rapist, a 15-year-old lineman, told the boy. “F--k the police!”
Two of the three main victims of the attack are sons of law enforcement officers, WJLA reported.
One of the victim’s fathers told WUSA that he had “no doubt” that the teens were targeted because of their parents’ jobs.
The four attackers allegedly turned off the locker room lights, then raped the 14- and 15-year-old victims with a broomstick, The Washington Post reported.
“This wasn’t a prank, this wasn’t a hazing,” Montgomery Assistant State’s Attorney Carlotta Woodward said. “This was rape, and multiple attempted rapes, of four freshman boys. The victims screamed and pleaded for them to stop. Instead, they went from one victim to the other.”
On March 21, a judge determined that the last of the four suspects charged with forcibly sodomizing the boys with a broomstick would be tried in juvenile court, just like his co-defendants, WUSA reported.
They were all originally charged as adults.
“A 15-year-old brain is not fully developed, even with a completely healthy 15-year-old,” Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Steven G. Salant declared, according to The Washington Post.
The father of one of the victims said that the group’s ringleader, who is over six feet tall and weighs 245 pounds, “spent four years terrorizing the Damascus community” prior to committing the “violent rape,” WUSA reported.
He had five previous run-ins with the law, had over 100 disciplinary reports, and allegedly threatened another teammate with a broomstick shortly before the attack on the other four students.
But that suspect’s attorney, Daniel Wright, blamed Damascus High School officials for not stopping the heinous crimes his client perpetrated, and said that the allegations against him were a “character assassination.”
Wright said that the school had a history of student hazing, and that they knew his client, who has since been diagnosed with ADHD, was troubled.
They shouldn’t have left the locker room unattended, he added.
Prosecutor John McCarthy denounced the judge’s decision to charge the fourth suspect in juvenile court, and specifically questioned how an ADHD diagnosis contributed to his alleged crimes.
"I don't think there is any causal connection between ADHD and violent sexual attack," McCarthy noted.
“I think that offends those families who have sons who are victims, but it also offends … the men and women in this community who have children who have ADHD, who are medicated, who know that their children are not violent sexual offenders — to suggest that that diagnosis leads to that conduct, I just don’t think is consistent,” he added, according to WTOP.
Tom DeGonia, an attorney for the victims and their families, said they were “outraged” by Salant’s decision.
“This was a horrible, heinous crime,” DeGonia he declared. “And it’s important for accountability, and it’s important for [the victims] to know that the criminal justice system views this as importantly to them as it is to the community.”
“This is something these young men are going to have to live with for the rest of their lives, and they are struggling with it daily,” he added.