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Former N.J. Football Players Placed on Probation Following Hazing Scandal

Six former football players from Sayreville War Memorial (N.J.) High School were placed on probation and ordered to each serve 50 hours of community service following a horrific hazing scandal that led to the cancellation of the team's remaining 2014 season.

Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey announced Monday that of the seven former players charged with sex crimes last October, four pleaded guilty in family court to "charges of committing a disorderly persons offense of hazing, and third-degree endangering the welfare of their younger fellow teammates." For that, they were each played on probation for two years. Two others, meanwhile, were adjudicated delinquent and placed on one-year probation. The seventh has yet to go to trial.

All six players who have already been through the legal process dodged receiving a "sex offender" label. The prosecutor's office decided not to pursue that registration after consulting with the victims and their families.

The four who pled guilty were "ordered to provide truthful testimony against their co-defendants, and were ordered to have no contact with the victims." One was also placed on curfew. Of the two who went through trials, one was deemed delinquent on charges of "a disorderly persons simple assault, disorderly conduct, hindering his own apprehension by lying to police, hindering the apprehension of his co-defendants by lying to police, obstruction, and false swearing." The other was found delinquent "on a disorderly persons simple assault charge, and a petty disorderly persons count of engaging in disorderly conduct for his role in the hazing and sexual conduct."

According to the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office, the seven boys were involved in a series of hazing incidents from Sept. 19-30 last year. One involved a 17-year-old juvenile "body slamming" a 15-year-old victim to the floor, while others involved multiple defendants holding a victim down and attempting to grab his penis or digitally penetrate his anus.

"The facts that were alleged by the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office at the beginning of this case have clearly been proven in a court of law," Carey said in a statement. "The community of Sayreville needs to know that these serious crimes occurred, and now must work together to heal."

Once the hazing scandal came to light last year, the Sayreville school board unanimously voted to suspend five football coaches, including head coach George Najjar. The four assistant coaches were reinstated as teachers in November, while Najjar was ultimately reinstated as a physical education teacher in February, although he was transferred from the high school to an elementary school in the district. 

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