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Dauphin County DA charges 10 former Middletown football players in connection to alleged hazing incidents

Dauphin County District Attorney Fran Chardo announced the charges on Tuesday after releasing the results of a month-long investigation into hazing allegations.

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — Editor's note: The above video is from Aug. 22.

Dauphin County District Attorney Fran Chardo on Tuesday announced the results of his office's month-long investigation into alleged hazing incidents involving members of the Middletown High School football team.

A total of 10 people were charged as a result of the investigation, Chardo said.

The alleged offenders will all be charged as juveniles, he added.

Two of what Chardo called the "main perpetrators" of the hazing allegations, both age 17, are charged with multiple counts of criminal attempt to commit involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault, unlawful restraint, simple assault, and hazing.

One 16-year-old student is charged with unlawful restraint, simple assault, and hazing, Chardo said.

Three other students, two of whom are 16-years-old and one of whom is 17-years-old, are charged with unlawful restraint and hazing, according to Chardo.

Four other students, two aged 16 and two aged 17, are charged with violating the hazing statute, Chardo said.

Chardo did not identify any of the students by name.

According to the press release, the Criminal Investigation Division of Chardo's office began investigating after receiving a request from Lower Swatara Township Police on August 12.

Police were alerted to the hazing allegations by officials with the Middletown Area School District, who learned of the hazing allegations when a video showing an assault on a football player during a practice on August 11 was circulated on social media, Chardo said.

During the investigation, County Detective John O’Connor and Lower Swatara Detective Ryan Lesko interviewed over eighty individuals regarding the assaults, according to Chardo.

As a result of the investigation, police determined that on August 11th, three students were sexually assaulted in the turf room during a period of approximately 20 minutes, when the students were alone without the presence of any adults, Chardo said.

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, according to Chardo.

All of the alleged hazing incidents involved the two 17-year-olds described by Chardo as the "main perpetrators."

Chief Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Gettle indicated that all the cases will be handled through the juvenile system.

The charges filed against the 10 students are for alleged assaults on six student athletes, ranging in ages from 14-to-17, according to Chardo.

"This investigation did not involve just hazing or ‘boys will be boys’ conduct," Gettle said in the press release from Chardo's office. "Rather, two of these individuals committed repeated sexual assaults and encouraged others to participate under the guise of hazing.”

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," he said. ”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."

Middletown Area School District officials acted swiftly to address the incident when the hazing allegations came to light. 

On August 15, four days after video of the alleged hazing incident first surfaced on social media, head coach Scott Acri resigned. 

The school district announced on August 24 that it was cancelling the high school football season after learning that there was a second video of the incident, and that the number of players involved was larger than initially thought.

Later that month, families of two of the alleged victims retained the services of a Harrisburg law firm known for its work with victims of sexual abuse.

On Sept. 7, the district announced that seven students believed to be involved in the incident had been expelled, and on that same day the district's school board voted to accept a new plan to address and eliminate hazing within the school.

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, Chardo said.

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

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