Prosecutors won't try freshman football players as adults

Saturday, September 29th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Two 14-year-old football players accused of raping a teammate with a broom handle won't be tried as adults, prosecutors said.

The Tulsa County District Attorney's Office filed rape by instrumentation charges in juvenile court against the Webster High School students.

The boys have been released from a juvenile shelter on bail. Their case will remain in the juvenile system, where the focus is on rehabilitation rather than punishment, said Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Nightingale.

She said the district attorney's office will not seek adult certification for the teens.

Prosecutors considered the boys' sophistication and maturity, their record and history, the likelihood of rehabilitation in the juvenile system, and the prospects for protection of the public, she said.

The 14-year-olds could be supervised in the juvenile system through their 18th birthdays, and possibly their 19th birthdays, Nightingale said.

The boys are accused of forcing a 14-year-old freshman football player to a school locker room floor and raping him with a broom handle Sept. 21. An hour later, the students allegedly spanked the same boy with a weight belt and pelted his genitals with traffic cones.

Fourteen student-athletes were suspended after the incident, and Webster's ninth-grade football season has been canceled.

Five students received the maximum penalty allowed under the school district's code of conduct _ suspension for the rest of the academic year. They also were banned from ever participating in school sports in the district.

The other nine students got five-day or 10-day suspensions.

Students said no adults were in the locker room when the alleged rape occurred.

Superintendent David Sawyer warned coaches and school district employees this week not to tolerate or ignore hazing and bullying.