Superintendent addresses Damascus, Seneca Valley hazing allegations

The Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent is warning people to avoid what he calls "social media justice" and to withhold judgment until police wrap up their investigation into Damascus football.

Controversy has engulfed the high school's record-setting program for weeks after five members of the junior-varsity football team were charged with second-degree rape or attempted second-degree rape in connection with an alleged locker room attack against their teammates on Halloween.

Superintendent Jack Smith addressed the situation on Monday but declined to provide much new information.

"When an event happens and it involves law enforcement and typically the state's attorney, then it's our responsibility to step back," Smith said.

Smith noted he couldn't get into who was supervising the players at the time of the alleged incident - and he couldn't say whether they would be subject to any disciplinary measures.

"We have took some actions at this time with adults, but I'm not going to talk about those because those are personnel issues at this point," Smith said.

The Superintendent described the Damascus incident as allegations of sexual assault that started with hazing.

He said the county is investigating whether they have a system-wide hazing problem, mentioning another incident at Seneca Valley High School, where the county says there was a physical altercation among football players in September.

The Seneca Valley High School incident didn't result in any criminal charges.

Smith said once the police declined to accept the case at Seneca Valley, the district stepped in and disciplined coaches.

Asked whether coaches at Damascus continued to supervise children despite the serious nature of the allegations, Smith declined to answer, stressing that it's a personnel matter.

He did say that much of the information would eventually become public.

"I'm not going to become entangled in a conversation about a personnel matter, but it will all be known. It will all be known," he said.