BIXBY, Okla. (AP) — Four ex-football players at an Oklahoma high school were charged Thursday with the sexual assault of a teammate that prosecutors said wasn’t promptly reported.
Special prosecutor Matt Ballard filed a second-degree rape by instrumentation charge against the Bixby High School students. Three are 17 years old and one is 16. They each face up to 15 years in prison, if convicted.
The Associated Press is not naming the defendants because of their age. It wasn’t immediately clear through court records whether the former players had attorneys.
Ballard said Thursday that prosecutors are still investigating whether school officials took too long to tell police about the accusation.
Prosecutors said school leadership waited eight days to report what was first deemed “an alleged hazing incident” after a 16-year-old said a teammate in September assaulted him with a pool cue while others restrained him.
Investigators said the officials’ lag in reporting the assault may have jeopardized their ability to recover key evidence. A previously filed search warrant stated that some school officials may have tried to “not report the incident at all” — a misdemeanor under Oklahoma law.
Superintendent Kyle Wood resigned in December as pressure mounted from the community. Wood had led the suburban Tulsa district for more than 11 years, overseeing more than 6,000 students and a powerhouse football program that’s captured three state championships in the past four years.
The district began investigating in late October. Its report included interviews with the boy and his mother, but an affidavit filed by investigators provided a fuller account.
The boy told investigators he was assaulted by one player while three others held him down. Investigators said a fifth player recorded the assault on a cellphone, and another blocked a door, according to the affidavit.
<a target=”—blank” href=”https://apnews.com/afs:Content:965140127/Hidden-horror-of-school-sex-assaults-revealed-by-AP”>An Associated Press investigation published in 2017</a> examined sexual violence in school sports as part of a larger look at student-on-student sex assaults. Teammate-on-teammate sexual assaults occurred in all types of sports in public schools, and experts said the more than 70 cases in five years that AP identified were an undercount.
This story corrects the ages of the four accused juveniles.