Emotions run high at Wall Township High School board meeting amid hazing, sexual assault allegations
Emotions ran high at the Wall Township School board meeting Tuesday night, where many were there to get answers from the school district after allegations of hazing and sexual assault involving varsity football players rocked the community.
One board member resigned, and the football season was canceled, including the annual game against Manasquan.
A fourth employee in the district is now on administrative leave, and sources say that is the high school athletic director.
The crowd in attendance and the more than 1,000 people who watched online hoped for answers. What they heard were first person accounts of abuse inside the walls going back 27 years.
"He presented me to the locker room like I was a fresh kill,” says Eric Duchak, with the Class of 1997. “He dragged me across the locker room, where I was kicked, whipped with towels, pads and helmets. I don't know how I got out."
Duchak spoke to the board publicly for the first time about abuse he says he suffered 27 years ago at the hands of football players in the same locker room.
"I had been on that floor and been swarmed by athletes like that,” says Duchak. “I knew I had to say something. I knew I had to share my experience in the hope that no one else suffers in the way that I have."
Earlier, Superintendent Tracy Handerhan told the crowd the district acted as soon as it heard the most recent allegations involving hazing and threatening some football players. Authorities are in possession of at least one video showing the alleged assault.
"In response to the rumors that Wall Township Public Schools is sweeping this under the rug, I am here to tell you that that is absolutely false," says Handerhan.
Handerhan says the district was stepping up safety measures, implementing counselors, and increasing communication with students and parents. But her words were met with skepticism, especially those who say nothing has changed.
One mother says, “My son was taken advantage of and was told to do a sexual act to another football player in the locker room. How could this occur? I want to know how could this be an ongoing issue all these years.”
Board member Russell Gartz resigned as a result of the allegations. Many people also expressed their frustration that the principal did not attend the meeting.