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Prosecutor: Former Milton athletes sexually assaulted teammates - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Prosecutor: Former Milton athletes sexually assaulted teammates

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MILTON, Vt. -

Stunning allegations about five former members of the Milton High School football team-- the players are accused of sexually assaulting their teammates.

It was a recent tip from a parent about the alleged sexual assaults that led to an investigation this spring and a court date Tuesday.

"It's unbelievable, it's unbelievable that anyone would do that, unbelievable," said Grace Williams, a Milton mother and grandmother.

Prosecutors say William Jenkins, Colby Darling, Brian Lasell, Brandon Beliveau and Ryan Carlson were involved in sexually assaulting at least five teammates with brooms and pool sticks.

"I think it is fair to say that this is a culture that existed within the Milton football team," said T.J. Donovan, the Chittenden County state's attorney.

Donovan is looking into how long it's been going on. He says these attacks happened in 2011 and 2012 at different locations including a building next to the football field on the Milton High School campus.

Donovan also confirms one of the victims took his own life about a year after the alleged assault, but could not say if the move was directly connected to the incident.

"This was not a voluntary initiation process, this was an assault and that's as it is charged, that's how we are going to prosecute the case and that is what the victims deserve," said Donovan.

Milton Superintendent John Barrone was in the courtroom when attorneys entered not guilty pleas for all of suspects, each of whom is charged with simple assault. He says he and his administrative team knew nothing about the alleged assaults.

"All that I received was a report that students were fooling around in the locker room in the block house, I had no report that this type of violation had occurred," said Barrone.

He says while state law on mandatory reporting to Department for Children and Families can be confusing, he's always erred on the side of caution, and that if he had any indication of abuse he would have picked up the phone.

"If I had there is no question in my mind, in the principal's mind, in the athletic director's mind that this would have been reported," said Barrone.

Barrone is also denying claims that the principal at the time, Anne Blake, heard about misbehavior on the team and questioned a student who'd been talking about it with classmates. Court papers show Blake told that student that if it was true, she'd shut down the football team. Investigators say that intimidated the alleged victim, who feared the whole school would hate him. Court papers also show the student was then forced to admit to his class that he had lied about it.

Barrone told WCAX News that he "does not believe that for a minute, that is not Anne."

He's doing his own investigation and says he's not afraid to pull the plug on sports if he finds a larger problem.

"I don't want to have to go to that level, as we do our own investigation, if I find this is a widespread practice and this is a common practice then I would have no problem canceling not only football but any sports team where this kind of behavior is prevalent," said Barrone.

WCAX reached out to Blake but was informed she is on medical leave.

Donovan cited the age of the suspects and the time of the incident for the nature of the charges against the former players.

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