Judge Grants $20K Bond to Damascus High Students Charged in Reported Rape Case
Police investigating incident involving brooms hung around high school property
Updated on Thursday at 1:45 p.m.: The four Damascus High School students charged as adults for allegedly raping fellow football players inside a school locker room were each released on a $20,000 bond this week.
Jean Abedi, Kristian Lee, Will Smith and Caleb Thorpe, all 15 years old, face first-degree rape charges stemming from an Oct. 31 incident in which the teens allegedly sexually assaulted four junior varsity football teammates as part of a reported hazing ritual at Damascus High School. A fifth person faces charges related to the incident, but is being charged as a juvenile so his identity has not been released by police. Lee, Smith and Thorpe were released on Monday while Abedi was released on Tuesday.
Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said Maryland state law mandates individuals older than 14 be charged as adults when charged with first-degree rape. However, Abedi, Lee, Smith and Thorpe can each petition to have their cases returned to juvenile court.
McCarthy said the prosecution will decide on a case-by-case basis whether to oppose the petitions, if filed.
The four boys being tried as adults are charged with one count of first-degree rape, three counts of attempted first-degree rape and one count of conspiracy to commit rape.
Each was ordered Monday in Montgomery County District Court in Rockville to have no contact with each other or the alleged victims, and to stay away from the high school as conditions of their bond release. Mental health evaluations were also ordered Monday.
During a press conference following the teens’ bond hearing, McCarthy said he opposes using the term “hazing” when speaking about the alleged crimes.
“I’m offended by the term hazing. It’s not hazing,” McCarthy said. “These are crimes and I would caution anyone to refer to this as hazing. These boys were victims of criminal acts, they were not victims of hazing.”
A preliminary hearing for each of the four boys charged as adults is scheduled for Friday, but McCarthy said he anticipates that hearing will be postponed or grand jury action will occur prior to Friday.
On Sunday night, Damascus High Principal Casey Crouse notified Montgomery County police that someone had hung broomsticks around the high school campus. A broom was allegedly involved in the rape. Montgomery County Public Schools staff and police checked the campus on Monday to “ensure that the area was clear of the offensive items,” according to a letter Crouse sent to parents on Monday morning.
Crouse called the incident “extremely upsetting” and said it “clearly demonstrates an attempt to harm the well-being of DHS students, staff and community.”
She added that an investigation is underway and anyone found responsible will be subjected to consequences in accordance with the MCPS Code of Conduct.