Editor's Note: The details in this story are graphic and may be disturbing to some readers.
A month after hazing allegations came to light at a Chester County, Pennsylvania, high school, the district attorney announced charges against three football players accused of sodomizing a younger teammate with a broomstick.
"This is a simple case about ignorance, violence and a shocking lack of supervision," said Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan.
Hogan announced the charges at a news conference Friday while discussing hazing allegations against football players at Conestoga High School in Berwyn, Pennsylvania. The boys were not identified since they are minors. Hogan said the investigation goes back three or four years.
"If you call this hazing or you call this assault, what we are really talking about here is bigger, stronger kids picking on smaller, weaker kids — this is just bullying and in Chester County. We won't stand for bullying," said Hogan.
Older boys are accused of putting their genitals on younger boys' heads, and on Oct. 15, three 17-year-olds allegedly forced a broomstick into the anus of a younger, smaller boy.
It happened after the younger player opted out of cleaning the locker room in his underwear, authorities said. When the boy tried to leave, an upperclassman told teammates, "stick a broom up his a--," according to Hogan.
Two boys — one weighing around 280 pounds — held the younger player down while a senior began poking him between his legs, said Hogan. Some of the players said the victim was an outcast who was unpopular among the players.
The incident occurred on what's known among students as "No Gay Thursday," when older players allegedly commit "gay" acts upon younger ones as part of a hazing tradition, according to Hogan. Although the case centers around the football team, Hogan said other student-athletes were either exposed to or involved in hazing incidents.
Students said coaches were unaware of the alleged sodomy, which came to light after the boy's father learned what had happened and contacted police last month. Coaches told investigators they had no knowledge of "No Gay Thursday."
Hogan held the coaches responsible for leaving the teens alone in the locker room.
"All this happened under the noses of the coaches because they were not there to supervise these students and let this happen by not paying attention," Hogan said.
The school, which has been cooperating with investigators, addressed the allegations in a news release Friday, promising to make its internal investigation a top priority.
"We feel strongly that all athletes must be able to participate in team activities in an environment free from hazing," said Tredyffrin/Easttown School District Superintendent Dr. Richard Gusick. "District policies and school rules have been in place to reinforce tolerance and respect. Each season, our Athletic Director emphasizes the expectations for conduct, including no tolerance for hazing, by meeting with all coaches and all teams. Traditionally our athletes have demonstrated high standards of sportsmanship and conduct on and off the field.
"In light of the information shared by the police about the football program, we will conduct a thorough school-based investigation. The process will be designed to determine whether or not code of conduct violations occurred, the awareness and level of supervision provided by the coaching staff, and what further measures can promote inclusive and respectful behavior," Gusick continued.
The latest allegations come only a few months after a middle school sexting scandal rocked the district. At least one student was charged with sending sexually explicit images earlier in the school year.