By Elisha Fieldstadt, ABC News
Four 15-year-old Maryland high school football players charged as adults with rape for sexually assaulting four teammates with a broom during a hazing incident have been released on bond.
Three of the Damascus High School athletes, who NBC News is not identifying, were charged with two counts of first-degree rape and two counts of attempted rape, according to District Court of Maryland documents. One of the athletes was charged with four counts of first-degree rape.
All four junior varsity athletes are charged with conspiracy to commit rape.
The students were each released Tuesday on $20,000 bond, according to court records.
A fifth teammate is accused of participating in at least one of the attacks and being charged as a juvenile but is also identified as one of four victims, charging documents show.
One of the alleged victims told police that the suspects held him down, pulled his pants down and poked his buttocks with a broomstick before “the broomstick was inserted into his anus a few inches,” prosecutors said.
Two of the victims said they were violently attacked, but were able to fight off the assailants before they “got the broom,” prosecutors said.
Another victim said a broomstick, which he described as a wooden handle with a “cut on the tip of it” was inserted inside him. When that victim tried to fight the attack, the suspects told him it was “tradition,” he told police.
When interviewed by investigators, one of the suspects said the broom “started from generations ago,” according to prosecutors, who said freshmen were the ones targeted.
Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said citing tradition is not a defense.
“I’m offended by the term hazing. It’s not hazing, these are crimes, and I would caution anyone to refer to this as hazing. These boys were victims of criminal acts,” McCarthy said, according to NBC Washington. “They were not victims of hazing, they were victims of first-degree rapes.”
The alleged rapes and attempted rapes happened on Oct. 31, according to the court documents. Damascus High School’s principal reported the possible assaults to police on Nov. 1.
Montgomery County Public School District Superintendent Jack Smith said in a statement that the district is cooperating with police and providing support for Damascus High School students.
“Our thoughts are with the students, staff and all who have been affected,” Smith said.