4 Damascus JV Football Players’ Cases Moved to Juvenile Court; MCPS Conducts Internal Investigation

Esther Frances, Print Copy Editor

After four Damascus High School (DHS) JV football players were charged as adults for first degree rape and an additional three counts of conspiracy to commit rape in November 2018, four separate hearings throughout February and March decided that all four players will now be tried as juveniles.

In order to move a case from circuit court to juvenile court, Maryland law requires that certain factors are considered, including age, mental and physical condition and compliance to juvenile treatment. Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Steven G. Salant ruled for the final player to be moved to juvenile court March 21, arguing that as teenagers, their brains aren’t fully matured.

“A 15-year-old brain is not fully developed,” said Salant in a March 21 Washington Post article.

Due to the particular player accumulating 11 school suspensions before the attacks in October, prosecutors and families of the victims fought for this case to be continued in adult court.

“This wasn’t a prank, this wasn’t a hazing,” Montgomery Assistant State’s Attorney Carlotta Woodward said in a March 21 Washington Post article. “This was rape, and multiple attempted rapes, of four freshman boys. The victims screamed and pleaded for them to stop. Instead, they went from one victim to the other.”

Along with the anti-hazing presentation given to all MCPS fall and winter athletes in November, MCPS will also be conducting its own widespread investigation of the events that took place at DHS.

“We intend to use the work that will come out of the state’s attorney’s office to do an internal assessment of the [school] system,” MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith said in a Feb. 26 press conference. “We are fully committed to making sure our students are safe and that our programs are a positive and good experiences for all students.”