BRONX CRIMINAL COURT — Three members of The Bronx High School of Science boys track team who have been charged with hazing and forcibly touching a teammate appeared in court Friday, where a judge set a later court date and extended an order of protection for the alleged victim.
Judge Jeanette Rodriguez-Morick of Bronx Criminal Court instructed the three teens not to contact the alleged victim, whether by phone, email, text, the Internet or a third party.
One of the teens replied, “Yes, m’am,” but the other two did not respond.
The judge also denied the request of several media outlets to take cameras into the courtroom, explaining that she understood “the intense media interest in the case,” but that the defendants are minors and the media attention could interfere with their right to a fair trial.
“These are minors. They’re entitled to the presumption of innocence,” Angel Cruz, an attorney for one of the students, said after the hearing. “My only hope is that we’ll be able to restore their reputation at the conclusion of this matter.”
The students, two 16-year-olds and one who is 17, whose names DNAinfo.com New York is withholding, are accused of inappropriately touching a freshman boy numerous times over the past three months at the elite West 205th Street high school, according to the Bronx District Attorney's office.
The teens were arrested Feb. 27 and charged with forcible touching, assault, hazing and harassment, according to the DA's office. They pleaded not guilty at their arraignment the following day and were released without bail.
Since their arrest, the three students have been sent to a different educational facility to attend classes while they await a school disciplinary hearing, according to a Department of Education spokeswoman. Sources said that hearing is scheduled for March 15.
An athletic director and two track coaches at the high school were suspended from coaching following the hazing allegations, but they are still able to teach, the spokeswoman added.
Track events at the school have also been suspended, the spokeswoman said.
In a Feb. 20 incident at the school, two of the accused students cornered the victim and threatened him, saying, "You're going to get a rape," according to the criminal complaint.
They then allegedly held the boy down and sodomized him through his clothing with a finger. When the victim was able to get away, they chased him down, touched him again, and then hit his crotch with a water bottle, the complaint stated.
In another incident on the afternoon of Feb. 25, two of the students again held the boy down and sodomized him with their fingers through his clothing, the complaint states.
"I want to cuddle," one of the students said, according to the complaint. "Don't resist. We won't hurt you."
During one incident in January, one of the students threatened to rape the victim if the victim would not touch the student's genitals, prosecutors said. When the victim refused, the student pressed his crotch against the victim through the victim's clothes, the criminal complaint said.
The three students also touched the victim's genitals through his clothing "on numerous occasions," according to the criminal complaint.
Before Friday’s court appearance, the three teens gathered in a hallway outside the courtroom.
Joined by a half-dozen young supporters, they stood in a circle and chatted, laughing occasionally.
One young supporter wore a green and white Bronx High School of Science sweatshirt with the phrase “Undefeated 0-0” on the back.
The three teens, wearing dress clothes and ties, were noticeably more somber in the courtroom, where their private attorneys explained to the judge that they had been retained to replace the teens’ court-assigned public defenders.
The judge set the next court appearance for April 23.