This is a question that likely is on the minds of a lot of people right now — not only in Sayreville and greater New Jersey, but across the nation. It’s a legitimate question to be considering.
We know that the issue is one that Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey is likely wrestling with. According to a story on NJ.com, Carey hasn’t said one way or the other, but other legal observers interviewed for the story say it would be a surprise if he didn’t seek to move the matter out of Family Court.
We first wrote about this case just last week. At that time, the investigation was just getting started. No one had been arrested and no one had been charged. Since then, seven youths between the ages of 15 and 17 have been taken into custody and there is talk that more arrests could be coming.
The Asbury Park Press says the defendants face a list of charges for alleged hazing attacks on four freshman football players. The charges range from aggravated sexual contact, aggravated sexual assault and criminal restraint and hazing — all stemming from a purported act of sexual penetration against at least one of the victims.
There is a set protocol for how juvenile cases are handled in New Jersey. They all begin in family court. But, as some legal observers note, high profile cases often receive different treatment. A lot is left up to the discretion of the prosecutor.
As the NJ.com story explains, the prosecutor has 30 days from the date the charges were filed to make a decision as to whether to seek the necessary waiver to elevate one or more of the cases out of family court. We just have to wait.
At this point the only thing that has been confirmed is that the seven teenagers have been suspended from school. Whether any have been remanded to detention as part of the juvenile hearing process is not known.
If a waiver is sought and granted, legal proceedings which have been confidential to this point would become public. If convicted of sexual assault charges in regular criminal court, their penalties would also be more severe than if convicted in family court.