Three Conestoga senior football players charged with sexual assault of freshman player – This is no rite of passage!

FootballA month ago, we learned that an extensive law enforcement investigation was underway at Conestoga High School after they got wind of hazing allegations. The investigation centered on ritual hazing by football players which occurred on the same day each week at the high school.  Apparently some of the students were aware of the hazing and would deliberately avoid the gym at certain times.

Today we learned from Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan that three 17-yr. old senior football players, including the team captain, at Conestoga High School have been charged with an October 15 hazing incident where they allegedly penetrated a younger player with a broomstick after he refused to help other underclassmen clean the team locker room while wearing just their underwear. Criminal charges were filed against the three juveniles for “assault, conspiracy, unlawful restraint, terroristic threats and other offenses.”

According to Hogan, the football team had a tradition called “No Gay Thursday” where all “gay” behavior was allowed.  Allegedly the team’s upperclassmen bullied the younger team members, often in sexually explicit or suggestive ways, during the weekly Thursday locker room hazing incidents.

The October 15 assault occurred after underclassmen were told to strip to their underwear and clean the high school locker room. The 14-year old victim stripped to his boxers but then reconsidered.  When the high school freshman tried to leave the locker room, he was held down by his attackers and abused sexually with a broom handle.  The prosecutor said that the three upperclassmen football players “will not face sexual assault charges because the law requires a motive of sexual gratification, which was not the case here.”  I suggest that the law needs to change … this was rape.

Although Hogan said that there is no evidence that the coaches were aware of the assault, Conestoga’s head football coach John Vogan was suspended from all coaching activities pending the outcome of an internal investigation by the TE School District.

District Superintendent Dr. Richard Gusick has sent a letter to the T/E families, which stated that administrators will conduct a “thorough school-based investigation to determine whether code of conduct violations occurred and the awareness and supervision of the coaching staff.”

Some may view school football hazing as a rite of passage – sexual assault with a broom handle is rape. Bottom line, the TE community needs to hold the District’s administration, staff and school board accountable and demand answers.  No one should be allowed to hide behind the curtain of “number one school district in the country”!

I suggest that the TE School Board members need to stop talking about school fencing and focus on what’s really important — sexual assault in the high school … the real safety risk to our children!

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  1. I was thinking the same thing. Everybody posting here should watch 30 for 30 on espn that debuted Sunday night about Duke LX team.

    Patti I agree to disagree this DA loves the camera.

    Please everyone note: today’s NY Times article . No one talked accept the DA. of Course!!!! Yes if charges are true he did the right thing. However he makes an indictment of the whole school and community in a national newspaper. He could have said I will save my comments until the court date. No! Again, I am not saying that he should have not pressed charges, I am saying there is a way of doing your job professionally.
    He loves the cameras. If he is wrong here will he be as mouthy apologizing to the school, the coach, to the district.

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  2. I just got to this comment…THANK YOU. Why the immediate assumption for an incident is to believe the accuser is beyond my understanding. We never learn much about the so called victim….is he a student in good standing? Does he have an agenda?
    ESPN 30 for 30 is currently airing “Fantastic Lies”….I suggest all you upstanding, indignent folks who know NOTHING about these allegations watch it.
    If this actually happened, a court will decide. How any parent, or former board member, can lay responsibility on administration with insufficient information is unconscionable. If something happens in your basement, will you absolutely know about it? How did a whole generation of altar boys get raped without some parent observing the behavior?
    i sadly agree with Shining Light–when asking former high school athletes about hazing, at Conestoga and elsewhere, I hear answers that horrify me. There are academic secret societies at major colleges. I don’t get it, but I will not try to find someone to blame. Donald Trump is resonating with those seeking authoritarian control…without a single idea offered. Do you want an administration at a high school to react to innuendo,,or to seek the truth?
    And as for top ranked….when do you hear the school brag? iT is the parents and students who take pride in these rankings!! A few years back, CHS did not submit data for one of these media beauty pageants and I believe many on THIS blog were annoyed at CHS and TESD not being included.
    Parenting is the #1 influence in a kid’s life and probability of succeeding. Make sure you know EXACTLY what is happening everyday…but be sure you verify…don’t just ask. ….
    And as for “immediate” expulsion….this is a PUBLIC school. FAPE applies, and hopefully, even the righteous folks here on Community Matters will allow due process to take place.

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    Pattye Reply:

    I offer the following clarification to your comment — the TESD website contains the following, “T/E School District Ranked #1 in America by Niche.com”

    Niche.com recently released their 2016 Public K-12 School Rankings and Tredyffrin/Easttown School District was ranked #1 in the nation and #1 in the state. In addition, Conestoga High School was ranked #1 in Pennsylvania and #31 in the U.S. The District earned A+ grades in Academics, Administration & Policies, Educational Outcomes, Extracurriculars, Food, Health & Safety, Resources & Facilities, Sports & Fitness and Teachers. Niche.com creates these rankings by analyzing a combination of school data and parent/student survey responses. Dr. Richard Gusick, T/E’s Superintendent of Schools, stated, “This ranking is made possible when a talented, committed staff, supportive parents and an engaged community come together to teach the best kids anyone could ever hope to serve.”

    In 2015, Niche.com ranked T/E third in the nation. All of the details on Niche.com’s 2016 Public K-12 School Rankings can be viewed at the following link: https://k12.niche.com/rankings/public-schooldistricts/best-overall/.

    http://www.tesd.net/site/default.aspx?PageType=3&DomainID=1&ModuleInstanceID=2466&ViewID=047E6BE3-6D87-4130-8424-D8E4E9ED6C2A&RenderLoc=0&FlexDataID=26724&PageID=1&GroupByField=&GroupYear=0&GroupMonth=0&Tag=

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    Community Observer Reply:

    I don’t see this as clarifying anything. If Dr. Gusick goes looking for a new job, then TESD ranking might influence his applicant credentials, but otherwise, how is publishing these rankings as a matter of information anything but that.
    It is parents and real estate agents who take pride in this stuff. And they should. Read the Gusick quote. “best kids anyone could ever hope to serve” is hardly self-serving.

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    Pattye Reply:

    I was simply commenting on your statement,

    And as for top ranked….when do you hear the school brag? iT is the parents and students who take pride in these rankings!!

    by simply pointing out that the District is proud (‘bragging’) about their ranking.

  3. Lets be sure we arrest the parents of these boys too! If the AD is to blame gor their behavior, then surely the people who encourage them to play football are also to blame! Lets get accountability people. Someone is to blame!

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  4. That was college freshman and sophomores, all of 2 years older. The relevance is NOT about the behavior per se…it is about the allegations. The coach lost his job…and it was all a lie.

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  5. Thank you Crucible 2016. I was unaware of the accuser links to the sexting, or that he was previously expelled before making these claims. That does not mean it did not happen, but certainly creates some “reasonable” doubt about the delayed complaint being filed.

    Right now–ESPN 30 for 30 – “Fantastic Lies” alleged to have cost Duke Univ over $100M in damages to settle law suits relating to the case…expelling 3 students, firing a coach, shutting down a lacrosse season without any evidence other than an uncorroborated accusation. But by all means–let us assume that Gusick has his job so he can protect …. Wait, what would he be trying to protect? He was an AP US HISORY teacher before he went on the admin track. Never coached that I know. People–go be better parents!

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  6. I attended the Public Information Committee Meeting last night at 6:30 at the TEAO chaired by Scott Dorsey.

    Given recent events and articles talking about it in just about every major newspaper in the country, I was curious if it would be mentioned.

    I walked in to find the chairs reserved for the community pushed far away from the Board table again leaving a wide gaping space between the two groups, but at least the loud and disruptive heat and air conditioning fan did not kick on every 15 minutes, so it was possible to hear the discussion and follow the flow of the conversation. I didn’t have to move my chair up to hear and sat in the gallery with the other citizens.

    All 9 Board members were in attendance which was unusual for a Public Info Committee Meeting.

    Scott Dorsey opened the meeting with a statement saying he would not take questions and would not discuss the recent hazing investigation at the High School.

    I told Scott that was the reason I came to the PIC meeting, and that I would like to discuss procedures at the school surrounding the topic, not having to do with the investigation but he said he was not going to get into a back and forth discussion with me.

    I understand and accept that Board Members refuse to have conversation like discussions with citizens at Board Meetings. As established, Board Meetings are for show; votes are taken on decisions that have been made in Committee meetings, which is why I attend committee meetings and I think that citizens should be allowed the opportunity to speak at and engage in back and forth conversation with Committee members.

    I had no choice and the discussion was redirected toward the public comment section and video recording at School Board Meetings by the District.

    It was a very good discussion. The Directors were engaged, asked questions, gave (good) suggestions and they were nice to me, which was very unusual. I didn’t get screamed at, no one talked down to me or publicly humiliated me before or after the meeting.

    I raised my hand before I spoke, and I took a mental note to time myself when speaking. If I talked for more than 2 minutes the entire meeting, I would be surprised. I don’t think that is unreasonable. I think that citizens have been treated like unwanted intrusions in a process that excludes us and has been designed to make us feel like we have no say and are afterthoughts in the decisions that are made.

    I have been told that my questions and comments (2 minutes) disrupt board members from learning from Administrators Wow. Administrators aren’t supposed to be your teachers and you are not supposed to be students. If you want to be followers, then don’t run for leadership positions. As Directors, you are leaders. Please know about the topics and please have a working knowledge of the budget before coming to meetings.

    I will raise my hand. (sigh) I won’t talk for more than 2 minutes (double sigh) but I will ask questions, and make comments; maybe ones that you should be asking and making. Wow!

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    Pattye Reply:

    Gosh, if citizens can’t get answers at the Public Information meeting, well then where is it to happen? Setting aside the assault investigation because it is a legal matter, I too would like to know how the administration/school board plans to address hazing going forward. What procedures will be instituted so that the culture changes. Why can’t Public Information include that discussion?

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  7. Okay Pattye. Your choice of verbs does not work for me, but whatever spin CM wants to put on posting information, it’s up to you. Let’s pretend it’s about semantics and not tone.

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  8. It has taken months for the assault on a TE 14 year old to be aired on TV this past week. Sorry, but those three bullies and felons that had the nerve to touch another person, especially in such a demeaning and frightening way, should be arrested on rape charges and the football program shut down forever. I don’t care what the victim has done – he didn’t deserve to be ganged up on and hurt in such a horrible manner.

    I don’t buy for one minute that this is the first incident where these three “boys” have been involved. The signs were there for years – you don’t just decide on one Thursday to sodomize someone because you don’t like him. Jealousy reared it’s ugly head big time.

    As far as the coaches go – fire them, they don’t deserve to be in charge of anyone’s child. Their job is to teach sportsmanship and truth.

    By the way who is Hogan “holding to” that he isn’t going after rape charges? Really looked deep to come up with his explanation as to why this wasn’t rape.

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  9. I am a Conestoga High School alumni for over 50 years and think that the hazing/raping incident or incidents are absolutely horrific and inexcusable. The three football players charged should be expelled from school, not allowed to graduate, and serve jail sentences. All the football coaches should resign and the football program at CHS suspended for several years.

    H. James Hulton III
    CHS Class of 1962

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