Former prosecutor warns against rush to judgement in Wall, NJ, hazing case
As the community in Wall Township reels from allegations of hazing and sexual assault by some members of the high school football team, the former Monmouth County Prosecutor is warning about a rush to judgment.
Chris Gramiccioni and his wife, a former judge, live in Wall and raised their children there. In an op-ed published in the Asbury Park Press, the Gramiccioni's urge residents to "put down their stones," or risk sending the wrong message to our kids.
A rush to judgment, the couple says, against anyone wearing a football jacket teaches kids "That facts don't matter. That public condemnation is warranted before any investigation is complete."
Its time we stopped shaming an entire town, an entire school system, an entire team for the alleged acts of a few. Enough already. So, before you pick up that stone to throw at a child who happens to be wearing a Wall Football jacket, think long and hard about the message you're sending to your own kids. You're telling them that facts don't matter. That public condemnation is warranted before any investigation is complete. Put down your stones. - Chris Gramiccioni, former Monmouth County Prosecutor
Multiple media reports have claimed the hazing was sexual in nature and involved older players and a younger victim. Neither law enforcement nor the Monmouth County prosecutor has confirmed that.
Parents packed the latest Wall Township School Board meeting demanding answers. Board members sat silent, as the crowd was reminded the session was designed to take public comment, not answer questions.
The district did place the athletic director on leave and suspended three football coaches, but did not get into specifics about why.
School Superintendent Tracy Handerhan did angrily lash out in recent days over claims there was a cover-up by the district. She insisted law enforcement was notified as soon as the allegations came to light and the district began it's own probe.
The lack of details and rumors circulating on social media have led to deep divisions in the community. Some parents were angry the district canceled two football games as the Wall was heading into the playoffs. They said it was wrong to punish the entire team for the behavior of a few.
Gramiccioni cautioned against "shaming an entire town, an entire school system, an entire team."
"For a child, who may have done nothing wrong except be part of a team, imagine the helplessness we're perpetuating, Gramiccioni warned, "And when kids feel helpless, we are adding to the list of victims of this tragedy."