Ex-judge questions student suspensions amid Wall, NJ hazing investigation

Former State Superior Court Judge Deborah Gramiccioni, now a lawyer in private practice representing several students at Wall Township High School, warned school administrators amid a number of school suspensions issued as the investigation continues into allegations of hazing in the locker room.

The Monmouth County District Attorney’s Office is investigating allegations of a hazing incident from which at least one video clip was recognized, as well as separate off-campus sexual assault charges involving minors.

Since all of the allegations involve minors, specific details cannot be disclosed under state law, according to Monmouth County Acting Prosecutor Lori Linskey.

The locker room incident was first reported by NJ.com, citing parents involved in the investigation, who said six top-class athletes were seen in a video, immobilizing a younger athlete and threatening to sexually assault him with the handle of a mop or broom.

One of the students involved in this incident has also been charged with sexually assaulting at least one girl in an unrelated incident, as previously reported.

Gramiccioni told New Jersey 101.5 she represented “less than a dozen” members of the football team who have been suspended since the allegations were first announced.

She declined to talk about the specific reasons she was selected, while warning Wall Schools Superintendent Tracy Handerhan to be “aware” of the welfare and reputation of players who are not directly involved in the game. what happened.

“There seems to have been a rush for judgment, in regards to the letter we wrote to Superintendent Tracy Handerhan. We learned of child suspensions sometimes for more than ten days,” Gramiccioni said in New Jersey 101.5 .

“Sometimes the suspensions are suddenly extended the day before these children return to school with little or no assurance to families that these suspensions are related to actual bad behavior by the student.”

She said the school administration and the public were using a very broad brush to accuse the entire football team of doing something wrong.

“Not only does this trample on the cornerstone of our justice system by essentially demanding that innocent children come forward and defend themselves against something that is nothing less than a public attack,” Gramiccioni said.

“It doesn’t give these kids the due process they not only deserve but the New Jersey code requires when you talk about suspensions.”

Her husband, Christopher Gramiccioni, resigned as a Monmouth County District Attorney in June when the married couple started their law firm, Kingston Coventry.

The Gramiccionis live in Wall Township and have sent their three children to public schools in the district, she confirmed.

The “culture” of the team called into question

In a heated Wall Township Board of Education meeting earlier this month, Wall High School graduates were among those who shared previous incidents of bullying, which they said occurred during their stay. at school.

A young man said he spoke publicly for the first time about his own attacks in the locker room in 1994, by members of the football team at the time.

A resident also said her son with special needs was bullied in 2012, by members of the football team, into a sexual act – she asked how it was possible that he was exploited.

Wall High School (Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media NJ)

Quick to hang up?

Gramiccioni doesn’t think the school is panicking over the allegations, but she does think the suspensions may be a reaction to media attention.

“Our administrators must also proceed with a scalpel, not a hammer, and the decision-making process must be transparent. Otherwise, we are forced to conclude that these administrators care more about job security than about the future. of our students, ”said Gramiccioni.

She cited NJ administrative code 6A: 16: 7B as describing the process to be followed for short and long term suspensions. It provides for the possibility for students to present their side of events, written notification to parents of specific accusations and the facts on which they are based.

“There appears to be little or no transparency for parents when these children are hung up,” Gramiccioni said.

She said there was a lot of sympathy for team members who might be lumped together as one, but who fear being verbally attacked for expressing concern.

The Crimson Knights have lost their last two games of the season, including a playoff game and their traditional football game with Manasquan.

Monmouth County District Attorney’s Office spokesperson Chris Swendeman said there were no new comments on the investigation on Tuesday.

Handerhan did not immediately respond to New Jersey 101.5’s request for comment on Tuesday.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at [email protected] or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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