Inappropriate Touching Charged

Inappropriate Touching Charged Parents in one South Jersey community are coping with some disturbing abuse allegations. A 14-year-old boy told police he was touched inappropriately by another teen during a party in Barnegat Township. Two other teens are also facing charges.

Police are not releasing the names of anyone involved in the alleged incident.

Police said the incident happened Sept. 24. Authorities learned about it four days later when school officials contacted them. Those officials said they had been hearing rumors about the party.

"It's our understanding is that it was a party. It was a party at somebody's home, a private residence," said Anthony Pierro, a prosecutor.

What allegedly happened at the party prompted Barnegat Township police to take three 14-year-old boys into custody. Prosecutors said the trio took part in a criminal act during which another 14-year-old boy was allegedly touched in a sexually inappropriate way.

"We are taking it very seriously. It obviously is a serious incident. It has sexual overtones and it will be treated appropriately," Pierro said.

One of the suspects has been charged with aggravated criminal sexual contact and two offenses related to the unlawful possession of a weapon. Police would not identify the weapon.

That boy and a second boy also face charges of simple assault and criminal restraint.

"He was held down by two other persons," said Police Chief Joseph Manger.

Police charged a third teen with destruction of evidence and hindering prosecution related to photographs of the alleged incident taken with a camera-equipped cell phone.

"We're in the process of trying to recover those at this point in time. It seems as though they had been destroyed," Pierro said.

Police said that seven other teens were present at the time of the alleged incident, which authorities said happened on a couch.

Investigators said that no adults were in the room, but they aren't sure if they were elsewhere in the home. They said that there is no indication that the teens had been drinking or using drugs at the time.

Prosecutors said the suspects and alleged victim are all freshmen at Barnegat Township High School and believe they are members of the football team. The suspects were released to their parents, but school officials handed out suspensions ranging from two to 10 days.

"They violated the code of conduct by being charged. They were each suspended from extracurricular activities, sports activities and school," said Thomas McMahon, the school superintendent.

The alleged victim was not injured. It was unclear what the motivation may have been, but police said that there is no indication that the incident had anything to do with hazing.

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