Following horrifying hazing allegations within a New Jersey high school football team, which led to the suspension of coaches and cancellation of games, former students and parents spoke at a meeting Tuesday night about their own experiences of abuse.
It was a heated school board meeting at Wall High School in Monmouth County. Many angry parents wanted to know why they found about about the allegations from the news and not the school, asking when district officials first found out. Among the people who took to the mic were former students who say hazing has long been part of the school and that they were bullied years ago.
Eric Duchak detailed being dragged across the locker room floor as well as being kicked and hit with towels, pads and helmets.
"I have held that with me for 27 years," Duchak told the school board. The alumnus called the latest allegation of several football players threatening to assault a younger classman with a broomstick part of an ongoing culture.
Get Tri-state area news and weather forecasts to your inbox. Sign up for NBC New York newsletters.
And so does Marilyn Clayton, a mother of a former student with Down syndrome. She says her son was bullied into a sexual act by members of the football team in 2012.
"This happened to my son, my son, and it was swept under the carpet," Clayton said.
These public commenters at the meeting Tuesday said new allegations of hazing ripped the band-aid of their never-healed wounds.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office has launched an investigation into the latest locker room incident in which parents say was captured on cellphone video. Separate incidents of sexual assault off-campus are also under investigation. said The office has said it cannot confirm or deny any details of the investigation because juvenile records are confidential by nature.
"I want to assure the public that multiple assistant prosecutors and detectives are diligently working on this matter right now but we really need your help, anyone with information is urged to contact our office," Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey said.
Meanwhile, parents of current students want to know why the district didn't act sooner and many of them are calling for the resignation of those involved.
Wall Township Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Tracy Handerhan explained the board can't comment because of the ongoing investigation. Handerhan read a statement detailing what the district has done so far once the allegations emerged.
Some parents say they were angry at the fact that the entire football team is being punished over the allegations surrounding about six players. One admonished the district for cancelling the playoff and Thanksgiving games after a year when students already lost so much due to the pandemic.
Three coaches for the Wall High School football team have been suspended, sources told NBC New York, including head coach and business teacher Tony Grandinetti. He and two others were placed on administrative leave.
So far, one school board member has resigned, citing the hazing allegations as the reason.