News outlets seek access in football hazing case

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) The Associated Press has joined other media organizations requesting access to juvenile court hearings for seven high school students charged in a football hazing investigation.

The AP joined with NJ Advance Media, Gannett New Jersey Newspapers and ABC Inc. in a motion filed Friday.

Seven members of the Sayreville War Memorial High School team were charged Oct. 10 with crimes ranging from hazing to aggravated sexual assault. The teenagers are charged as juveniles, and proceedings are being held in Family Court.

Juvenile proceedings generally are closed to the press unless media outlets or others seek access. The media organizations say previous cases show state courts favor increased public access to juvenile proceedings unless the juvenile can provide evidence there is a substantial likelihood of specific harm.

The media organizations argue that allowing the public access to the case will provide an outlet ”for community concern” in the highly charged case.

Three of the students were charged with aggravated sexual assault, criminal restraint, hazing and other crimes for an act of sexual penetration upon one of the children, prosecutors have said. The four other students were charged with aggravated criminal sexual contact and other crimes.

The school district canceled a scheduled game on Oct. 2 after receiving information from the prosecutors’ office, then canceled the rest of the season the following week.