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Maryland authorities investigate high school hazing/assault

The last weeks of the school year at one Maryland high school have been marred by reports of a sexual assault in the boys' locker room. The incident occurred on Friday, April 13, at Kent Island High School, which is located in Stevenson.

That weekend, video of the incident made the rounds on social media. It shows a group of male students holding down another student and putting their bare genitals on his face. Parents who saw the images say that the students were members of the junior varsity men's lacrosse team.

The state's attorney and the sheriff of Queen Anne's County say that they were informed of the incident that Sunday, reportedly by parents who saw the videos. They say that both the School Resource Unit and the Criminal Investigation Unit of the sheriff's office then began an investigation.

According to the state's attorney, the actions that allegedly occurred have been "characterized as hazing/false imprisonment/sexual assault." He said that the alleged actions would not warrant prosecution of any of the students as adults.

While authorities assure parents and the community that the incident is receiving their "complete investigative efforts, people have voiced outrage at the response from school authorities. In a letter to parents, the superintendent said only that school administrators "were made aware of a video that contained images of one of our Kent Island High School students being subjected to inappropriate and unacceptable acts by peers." She didn't state when they learned of the assault.

The students involved could be subject to disciplinary action by the school, including suspension. The lacrosse team forfeited the remainder of its season. The players involved could also find themselves facing punishment in the juvenile justice system. It hasn't been reported whether any adults were present during the incident.

Unfortunately, "mob mentality" and peer pressure sometimes overtake kids (and adults) and cause them to engage in behavior they'd never be capable of alone. It's essential for a child who's involved in criminal behavior with a group to have his or her own attorney. Parents need to ensure their children aren't punished for the actions of others and that their rights are protected.

Source: MyEasternShoreMD, "Assault at Kent Island High School being investigated," Hannah Combs, April 18, 2018

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