MILTON, Vt. - Five former Milton High School football players pleaded not guilty to assault charges in court Tuesday. The charges stem from a lengthy investigation into a hazing incident.
Police say the hazing incidents happened during the fall 2011 and the fall 2012 football seasons. The court documents reveal that at least three former teammates were victims of hazing including sexual assault.
The community of Milton was shocked to hear the news. Five former high school football players arrested on assault charges stemming from what police are calling a hazing incident.
“I just couldn't believe it happened in Milton because it’s just a nice town to live in,” said Brenda Companion, who lives in Milton.
“You know hazing happens, but it’s sad that it's happening up here,” said Mark Trudo, who lives Milton.
The Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations began looking into alleged hazing back in April.
Court documents reveal the five boys: William Jenkins, Brian Lasell, Brandon Beliveau, Colby Darling, and Ryan Carlson are all accused of sexually assaulting at least five of their former teammates.
Since the incident one of those victims took his own life, but court documents state there is no direct evidence linking his death to the alleged hazing.
The documents also show the assaults happened in more than one location including the high school locker room.
The Milton Schools Superintendent, John Barone says the district plans to work with law enforcement to address the situation.
“I'm anticipating that we may have to do our own internal investigation here in the district to make sure that none of this such behavior is not continuing to happen,” said John Barone, the Milton Schools Superintendent.
Barone says education is probably the best way to stop hazing from happening.
“We will probably be meeting with our athletes, I’m going to recommend that we meet fall, winter, and spring, and we talk about hazing and how it’s not tolerated,” said Barone.
Barone says he's already spoken to the football coach to make sure that message gets across to the players. The school has a zero tolerance policy meaning students could be expelled if they are involved.
Only three of the five former students were in court Tuesday; all of those charged in this incident have since graduated.
The simple assault charge holds a maximum of one year in prison, a one thousand dollar fine, or both.