Three Conestoga High School football players accused of hazing a younger player by sodomizing him with a broomstick have formally admitted to “harassment,” authorities announced Tuesday.
The accused players acknowledged using a broomstick, but only to "poke" the victim in the leg, according to a joint statement from Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan and defense attorneys for the three former players, who have since graduated.
The victim expressed "full agreement" with the statement, officials said.
The allegations of hazing in the football team’s locker room in Conestoga High School in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, shocked the suburban Philadelphia community when first reported last year.
The victim, a freshman at the time, claimed that in October 2015, three senior football players held him down and inserted a broom handle in his rectum.
Hogan told the public that the attack came during the football team's weekly hazing ritual, which they called “No Gay Thursday.”Hogan said the hazing ritual included players putting their genitals on each other and grinding against each other’s bodies.
The statement released Tuesday doesn't say whether that type of hazing took place.
But it does say the senior football players were just urging younger players to “clean” the locker room, according to the statement.
“When the victim refused to clean and attempted to leave the locker room, he was shoved, pushed and briefly held down by the three charged players in an effort to force him to clean the locker room,” the statement said.
That was when the players poked him in the leg with the broom, officials said.
“The intent of the charged juveniles was to scare the victim and coerce him to cooperate with other team members in the joint cleanup of the locker room, and not to do the victim any physical harm,” the statement said. “The victim did not suffer any physical injury.”
The three football players, who have since graduated, pleaded guilty to summary charges of harassment for the incident. No punishment for the players was reported publicly as their cases were handled as juveniles.
“We all hope never to see an incident like this in Chester County again,” the district attorney and defense attorneys said.