The seven Sayreville War Memorial High School football players who last month were charged with numerous crimes, including aggravated sexual assault, will be tried as juveniles, NJ Advance Media reports. There was originally speculation they could be charged as adults instead.
The news was first reported by the New York Daily News.
Middlesex County prosecutor Andrew Carey confirmed to NJ.com that the players would not be tried as adults. The defendants range in age from 15 to 17.
“The conduct in which the juvenile defendants engaged was serious and that is why criminal charges were filed,” Carey said. “The appropriate forum for the resolution of these cases is Middlesex County Family Court. Asking the court to waive these seven juvenile cases to adult court would not best serve the interests of the victims, the community or the defendants."
Reached Monday evening, Pamela Brause, an attorney for one of the seven unnamed defendants, says Carey's decision was the right one. "I believe the prosecutor carefully weighed the facts, assessed the statutes and made the proper decision," she said.
East Brunswick attorney Richard Klein, who represents another of the defendants, had similar thoughts. "Given the circumstances of the case, with both the defendants and alleged victims being juveniles, we feel that this was the right decision," he said.
The crimes, which took place from Sept. 19 to Sept. 29, were reported on Oct. 10. That day, the seven players were taken into custody and suspended from school.
According to NJ.com, three of the players are charged with aggravated sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, conspiracy to commit aggravated criminal sexual contact, criminal restraint and hazing for engaging in an act of sexual penetration upon one of the juvenile victims.
Had the players been charged as adults and convicted, they may have had to register as sex offenders.
Because the players are being tried as juveniles, their records will be sealed.
On Oct. 20, Sayreville head football coach George Najjar and four of his assistants were suspended from teaching and coaching at the school.