Coaches, teachers and administrators of Damascus High School failed to stop the school football team's violent hazing ritual, according to a lawsuit filed on behalf of four rape victims.
The school football team's tradition, called "brooming," involved the forcible sodomizing of younger players with a broom, according to the lawsuit.
The story made national headlines in 2018 when four 15-year-old boys were charged as adults for the alleged rape of fellow junior varsity football players in the Damascus team locker room.
According to the lawsuit, school administrators permitted the hazing to continue despite repeated notification from concerned parents.
The lawsuit also claims that the coaches and administrators knew about the violent propensities of one of the alleged attackers but still permitted that student to enroll in an effort to preserve the football team's national prestige.
“Winning football games was more important than the safety and protection of these young boys," said Bill Murphy, founding partner at Murphy, Falcon & Murphy, one of the law firms representing the minors.
"The Board of Education in Damascus, administrators and coaches fumbled their handling of these incidents in order to protect the brand and protect the football team’s winning streak."
Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia local news, events and information
The sexual assault of one of the victims happened in the football locker room at Damascus High School in 2017. The other three were attacked in 2018.
The lawsuit alleges the coaches and administration failed to supervise the locker room after school and before football practice, and delayed notifying the victims' parents and law enforcement.
“Instead of notifying victims‘ parents and law enforcement as required, the administration took it upon themselves to investigate and interrogate the victims," said Tom DeGonia, an attorney for the victims. "Critical time was lost by their actions.”
The lawsuit names the Montgomery County Board of Education, former Damascus principal Casey Crouse, former football coaches Eric Wallich and Vincent Colbert, and former athletic director Joseph Doody as defendants.