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Four 15-year-old Maryland high school football players charged as adults with rape for sexually assaulting four teammates with a broom during a hazing incident have been released on bond.
The Damascus High School athletes, whom NBC News is not identifying, were each charged with one count of first-degree rape, three counts of attempted rape and one count of conspiracy to commit rape, Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said.
Each of the students was released Tuesday on $20,000 bond, according to court records. They are not allowed on the premises of Damascus High School, and they are not allowed to contact one another, McCarthy said.
A fifth teammate is accused of participating in at least one of the attacks and being charged as a juvenile but is also identified as one of four victims, charging documents show.
One of the alleged victims told police that the suspects held him down, pulled his pants down and poked his buttocks with a broomstick before "the broomstick was inserted into his anus a few inches," prosecutors said.
Two of the victims said they were violently attacked, but were able to fight off the assailants before they "got the broom," prosecutors said.
Another victim said a broomstick, which he described as a wooden handle with a "cut on the tip of it" said he was "stabbed" on the buttocks with the broomstick. When that victim tried to fight the attack, the suspects told him it was "tradition," he told police.
When interviewed by investigators, one of the suspects said the broom "started from generations ago," according to prosecutors, who said freshmen were the ones targeted.
Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said citing tradition is not a defense.
“I’m offended by the term hazing. It’s not hazing, these are crimes, and I would caution anyone to refer to this as hazing. These boys were victims of criminal acts,” McCarthy said. "They were not victims of hazing, they were victims of first-degree rapes.”
The alleged rapes and attempted rapes happened on Oct. 31, according to the court documents. Damascus High School's principal reported the possible assaults to police on Nov. 1.
Montgomery County Public School District Superintendent Jack Smith said in a statement that the district is cooperating with police and providing support for Damascus High School students.
"Our thoughts are with the students, staff and all who have been affected," Smith said.