By Loydie Burmah |Staff Writer|
“There was enough evidence to substantiate there were incidents of harassment, intimidation and bullying that took place on a pervasive level […],” said district superintendent Richard Labbe at a media press conference.
Labbe announced the cancellation after meeting with parents of football players regarding preliminary investigations by Sayreville police and the Middlesex County Prosecutor office.
Six players were taken into custody on Oct 8th, and a seventh member was sought by police the following Saturday.
The players, ages 15-17, are charged with aggravated sexual assault, hazing, and conspiracy against four victims in separate incidents in September, according to Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey.
Freshmen, junior varsity, and varsity levels are suspended for the season until further notice.
Parents are outraged regarding the season’s cancellation, considering the Bombers’ three state sectional championship win.
The team will forfeit their remaining games, and their opponents will now “receive full power points,” according to a New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) spokesman, Michael Cherenson.
Bombers currently rank 2-8 overall, 2-7 in league against eight opponents.
Curtis Beckham, father of a varsity player told New Jersey Advance Media
that the cancellation is “bogus,” and that innocent players are “suffering” as a result.
Prior to the sexual assault and illegal hazing allegations, assistant football coach Charles Garcia was arrested and charged for possession of steroids.
Head coach George Najjar has made brief comments to media outlets since the investigation began.
“If he [Najjar] didn’t know what was going on, he should have known,” said Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-Union).
On October 12, Sayreville residents attended a candlelight vigil for the four victims at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park.
“We need to come together to support each other, our children, our community, and most especially the young men who spoke up,” said organizer Maureen Jenkins.
The young men whose names have not been released, are suspended from Sayreville Memorial high school, pending the investigation.
“We are in the process of arranging for an alternative education, pending further investigation,” said school board attorney Jonathan Busch.
On Oct 14, some charged players made an appearance at New Brunswick Family Court.
Middlesex Prosecutor Carey declined to comment to media outlets about any discussions that may have taken place.
District superintendent Labbe has not responded to any media inquiries, and has since hired a media crisis management firm.
Football coaches from different organizations have been vocal about Najjar’s lack of knowledge involving the players’ behavior.
“These days you can’t keep your head in the sand,” said New Jersey Scholastic Coaches Association Hall of Fame member Tony Maglione.
“The more eyes and ears you have on them, the more chance you’ll have to pick up on a problem. You have to be proactive,” added Maglione.
Continuing investigations regarding the incidents
is are currently underway.