One of the most prestigious schools in New York City is embroiled in an unseemly controversy after three members of the school’s lauded track and field team were charged as adults with four disturbing counts per person related to truly troubling allegations of sexually abusive hazing of a younger teammate.
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As reported by CBS 2 New York, NBC New York and a handful of other sources, three members of the track team at the Bronx (N.Y.) School of Science were charged with forcible touching, assault, hazing in the second degree and harassment in relation to allegations of hazing perpetrated upon one of their younger teammates. All three of the athletes in question will be tried as adults, meaning that they could receive time behind bars for their actions.
The three teenagers in question are 17-year-old Pier Berkmans, 16-year-old Boubacar Diallo and Thomas Brady, also 16. All three are members of the Bronx School of Science varsity track team, as is the alleged victim.
With an investigation ongoing, all activities related to the school’s track and field team have been suspended until more is known about what truly went on. The Department of Education is handling the investigation and has determined that no meets will be attended by the School of Science team until that investigation is complete, meaning that there is a chance the team’s entire spring season could be eliminated.
Meanwhile, the school’s athletic director and two of its track and field coaches have been suspended until the aforementioned investigation is completed. More disturbingly, the New York Daily News has reported that the athletic director, Marion Dietrich, knew about the team's culture of hazing and even sent an email about it to parents in spring 2012, yet did little to formally stifle it from happening again.
While nothing will be certain until the full due process of a formal investigation is completed, the allegations against the three teenagers are disturbing indeed.
According to CBS New York, the victim endured a series of sexual assaults that began in December, when one of the defendants told him, “You need a good fingering, you freshman,” and then penetrated his buttocks through his clothing. As the attacks increased in frequency and intensity, they later included threats of rape unless the freshman allowed the older boys to touch him sexually and an incident where he was held down to the ground and sexually assaulted.
In that particular incident, the victim allegedly told his attackers that they were hurting him only to receive a reply of, “don’t resist, we won’t hurt you.”
While the full investigation into the boys’ actions is ongoing, the parents of at least one of the teens accused in the attacks are standing up for their son’s reputation.
“He’s a good kid, and we are sure as his parents,” Yekaterina Berkmans, mother of Piers Berkmans, told the press. “He is someone incapable of doing the dirty things he is accused of.”
All will hope that is true because if it isn’t, Berkmans and his teammates need serious help.