Recent cases have revealed that locker room antics once perceived as hazing are now understood to be sexual assault:
- In January 2016, several Norman North wrestlers were charged with rape by instrumentation after two fellow wrestlers, aged 12 and 16, were assaulted on a bus returning from a wrestling tournament. In that case, the charged teens are accused of using their fingers to penetrate the younger teammates. Three of the teens had their cases dismissed, but one pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor assault charges and was given 6 months probation.
- In September 2017, four then-Bixby football players were accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old teammate with a pool cue during a team dinner at the home of the former superintendent of Bixby schools.
Now, a similar incident has been reported at Putnam City West High School. In this case, a 14-year-old says he was sexually assaulted with a broken broom handle by four football players, aged 15 to 18. According to reports the four accused teens confessed verbally and in writing to participating in the act, which they call "brooming," a tradition they say has been passed down from class to class.
Campus Police Chief Mark Stout says that the teens, who allegedly assaulted the boy over his clothes, could be charged with rape by instrumentation in the incident. He plans to meet with the Oklahoma County District Attorney's Office on Monday.
According to reports, one of the accused teens admitted to going to the freshman locker room to "mess with" the freshmen. He said the alleged victim was selected because he was a wrestler and could "take more." The older teens reportedly picked up the 14-year-old and carried him to the varsity locker room, where three teens held him up, and a fourth teen "shoved a broomstick up his rear end."
A student who witnessed the event reported it to an adult who notified school officials by email that night. The school and campus police began investigating the next day.
A Putnam City Schools spokesman said that the district is implementing a new locker room policy in which an adult will have to be present in the locker rooms when students are in them. He stated, "That's not been the practice in the past to have an adult present when students are changing clothes, but that has to change." He said the district is also creating a task force to consider issues of locker room supervision and the culture of athletic programs.
At least some of the students involved are expected to be charged as adults.