Charges brought in sexual assaults and hazing of Middletown Football team members
Dauphin County District Attorney Francis T. Chardo announced the results of a one-month investigation concerning allegations of hazing by members of the Middletown football team. On August 12, 2022, Lower Swatara Township police received a report from Middletown High School that a video was posted on social media showing an assault on a football player during a practice on August 11, 2022. As a result of the report from the school, Lower Swatara Township requested the assistance of the Criminal Investigation Division of District Attorney’s Office. During the investigation, County Detective John O’Connor and Lower Swatara Detective Ryan Lesko interviewed over eighty individuals regarding the assaults. Police determined that on August 11th, three students were sexually assaulted in the turf room during a period of approximately twenty-minutes when the students were alone without the presence of any adults. Through the investigation, police learned that three other students were also assaulted over the last year during various incidents, with at least one incident occurring at a residence. All the assaults involved the same two main perpetrators.
This morning, Detective O’Connor filed juvenile allegations against ten students involved in the various incidents. Two students, both seventeen years of age, have been charged with multiple counts of criminal attempt to commit involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault, unlawful restraint, simple assault, and hazing.
Police charged one student, age sixteen, with unlawful restraint, simple assault, and hazing and three students, ages sixteen (2) and seventeen (1), with unlawful restraint and hazing. Police charged four students, ages sixteen (2) and seventeen (2), with violating the hazing statute. Chief Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Gettle indicated that all the cases will be handled through the juvenile system. The charges filed involved assaults on six student athletes, with ages ranging from fourteen to seventeen. Gettle indicated, “this investigation did not involve just hazing or ‘boys will be boys’ conduct. Rather, two of these individuals committed repeated sexual assaults and encouraged others to participate under the guise of hazing.”
District Attorney Chardo noted that the Middletown Area School District was very cooperative through the investigation. “The school district went above and beyond to ensure that it cooperated completely with the police investigation.” To date, the investigation has shown that none of the coaches or school administrators knew of the incidents until the day it was reported to the police. Additionally, the school district took immediate action to remove all the known perpetrators from the school to ensure that the victims were not further traumatized.
District Attorney Chardo credited the detectives involved with the investigation for their thoroughness in the case. He added that police continue to investigate allegations of other assaults by the same perpetrators at a football camp over the summer. As many as six other students may have been assaulted but they have been reluctant to cooperate with the police. Individuals with information related to those incidents are encouraged to contact the police at Dauphin County detectives at (717) 780-6200 or anonymously online through Dauphin County CRIMEWATCH at https://dauphin.crimewatchpa.com/3.