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editorial

Ghastly rape charges also raise questions on hazing

If three Somerville High juniors indeed committed sexual assault at a sports camp in Western Massachusetts, Berkshire County prosecutors are right to treat the incident as an act of depravity — and not merely as a hazing ritual gone too far. At a school-organized retreat for several teams at Camp Lenox in Otis recently, three juniors on the soccer team entered a freshman cabin and attacked three players, according to authorities. Two victims managed to fight off the intruders. But one victim was raped with a broomstick, and was later observed crying and bleeding in a bathroom, prosecutors say. And the perpetrators reportedly tried to keep other students who witnessed the incident from telling anyone about it.

In response, the DA’s office has moved aggressively, charging the 17-year-old suspect with aggravated rape of a child under 16, assault with intent to rape, assault and battery, and witness intimidation; the two 16-year-old suspects face similar charges in juvenile court. All three defendants deserve a fair chance to fight the charges against them, and any punishments they receive should bear at least some proportion to their culpability for the incident. (The 17-year-old, charged as an adult by virtue of his age, likely faces a much stiffer sentence than the 16-year-old defendants, even though authorities believe one of the latter instigated the rape).

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