Court Proceedings Conclude In Two Damascus Locker Room Rape Cases, Report Says
Outcomes were behind closed doors, not made public
Damascus High School
Photo via MCPS
Two juvenile cases stemming from Halloween 2018 rapes at Damascus High School concluded during private proceedings last week.
The teenagers were both 15 when they were arrested last year for allegedly using a broomstick to rape some teammates. They appeared in court separately on Aug. 14 and 15, according to a Washington Post report.
David Felsen, of Rockville-based Felsen & Sargent LLC, an attorney for one of the defendants, would not confirm on Monday that the cases were completed or that court hearings were held last week. His only comment was that “there are no more court hearings scheduled for my client.”
The Post said its reporter was not allowed to stay in the courtroom for the proceedings, so it did not know the outcomes of the cases.
A spokesman for the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office declined to comment about the case on Monday, saying “we are prohibited from “talking about juvenile matters.” A Montgomery County Circuit Court clerk also declined to comment.
Four Damascus junior varsity football players are accused of using a broomstick to rape some teammates on Halloween afternoon, the day of the team’s last practice of the 2018 season.
In court proceedings this year, some defendants said the “broomings” were part of a hazing tradition at the school. MCPS officials have said some Damascus High staff learned of the assaults the same evening, but did not report them to police until the next day.
In June, one of the teens pled guilty to reduced charges of second-degree rape and three counts of attempted rape, according to The Washington Post, which cited three unnamed sources familiar with the matter.
State law dictates that in cases in which a child is alleged to have been involved in a crime that would be a felony in adult court, all proceedings relating to the child shall be open. The exception is if there is “good cause shown,” a judge can exclude the general public from a proceeding and admit only the defendant and “persons having a direct interest in the proceeding and their representatives.”
A spokesman from the state Administrative Office of the Courts wrote in an email that none of the filings in the juvenile record are available to the public.
Juveniles who commit sex offenses against other children are more likely to offend in groups and at schools, according to data from the U.S. Department of Justice. The vast majority – more than 90% – of youth offenders nationally are male, and most are sentenced to rehabilitation at a youth corrections facility or probation, depending on the severity of the crime, according to the department.
The Montgomery County school system in May hired a law firm to conduct an external review of the MCPS handling of the incident and examine its reporting policies of serious incidents. The $250,000 review was expected to be completed in late June but the law firm, WilmerHale, requested more time to complete its investigation.
Bethesda Beat staff writer Charlie Wright contributed to this report.
Caitlynn Peetz can be firstname.lastname@example.org