MCPS Investigation Finds Locker Room Unsupervised During Alleged JV Football Rapes

An independent investigation into the alleged rapes of junior varsity football players by their teammates at a Maryland high school says the students were completely unsupervised at the time of the assaults, and the timeframe in which the school reported the incident to police was acceptable.

Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith sent a letter to the Damascus High School Community Tuesday that said an investigation found "a lack of clear supervision expectations and a player supervision plan for the junior varsity football team."

Smith said no adult was directly supervising the boys' locker room from about 2:50 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. That 25-minute period is when the alleged assaults against four members of the JV football team took place on Halloween last year.

Junior varsity coaches who were typically responsible for supervising the players during that time were late and they didn't communicate their delays appropriately to other coaches or staff to ensure locker room supervision, Smith said in the letter.

MCPS protocol regarding extracurricular supervision states: “Coaches must supervise student-athletes at all times, before and after practices and contests at both home and away sites,” according to Smith's letter.

In a news conference Tuesay, Smith said that JV football coach Vincent Colbert was fired and would no longer work for MCPS. The varsity coach will continue in his position at the school.

Damascus High School athletic director Joe Doody was reassigned to another position within the school system, but would no longer be an athletic director at any school, Smith said.

Smith's letter said a parent first reported the assault to the head junior varsity football coach on the evening of Oct. 31. Police were notified the following morning. 

A police report obtained by the Washington Post details the alleged sexual assaults a group of boys endured inside a Damascus High School locker room. News4's Meagan Fitzgerald reports.

The Washington Post reported in April that Damascus High School officials launched its own investigation after learning of the incident and delayed reporting to the police. The report says the victims weren't given medical care then, and their parents weren't immediately notified. Police later sent the victims to be medically evaluated.

Smith said the investigation found no evidence of an "undue delay" in reporting the incident.

Reporters pressed Smith during Tuesday's news conference about why school officials waited to report anything to the police.

"In the context of everything that was said, it didn't indicate a sexual assault and there was a lot said and I, frankly, can't share that information at this time, but I'm telling you it did not indicate a sexual assault at that time," he said. "The next morning, it became much more clear as staff members talked with students about what actually had transpired."

In addition to seeking a new JV football coaching staff and athletic director, the football program will also be under probationary oversight.

Smith said MCPS hired an outside law firm to conduct an external review of reporting practices and supervision of athletics and other extracurricular activities at Damascus High School.

A 15-year-old boy accused of instigating the rape of fellow members of his Maryland high school football team in the school's locker room will be tried as a juvenile, moving the case out of adult court, a judge ruled Thursday. News4's Megan McGrath reports.

Five boys are charged for the alleged rapes.

Four victims were stomped on, laughed at and sexually abused with a broom in what the defendants called a hazing ritual, prosecutors said.

Four of the five boys accused in the rapes initially were charged as adults, but their cases were moved to juvenile court.

Damascus High School Principal Casey Crouse resigned on May 7.

"The horrific incident of October 31 has demanded significant attention from school and system leadership and has drawn ongoing negative media attention," Crouse said in the letter. "Despite this attention, the focus inside the school during the school day has never wavered. However, it has become clear that in order for Damascus High School to move forward, it will require new school leadership."

Crouse's resignation was effective immediately. Julius West Middle School Principal Kevin Yates took over as interim principal.

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