KEIZER, Ore. (KOIN) — Five freshman football players at McNary High School have been arrested for physical harassment that took place in the boys’ locker room, Keizer police announced on Wednesday.
The arrests come two weeks after the Salem-Keizer School District announced that the remainder of the freshman football season would be canceled due to “gross student-athlete misconduct.”
In a statement, the district said in part that they “must respect the privacy of those involved and cannot share details involving the investigation or any student disciplinary action. The safety of our students is our top priority and we will always act in a way to protect the safety and well-being of our students.”
According to authorities, the harassment took place between August and October and the victims were fellow freshman football players at McNary. Additionally, one student was a victim of fourth-degree assault.
Four of the players who were arrested were 14 years old and one was 15 years old. They were each taken to the Marion County Juvenile Department.
Troy Gregg, the juvenile department director, said it is not clear when the teens will be released.
“The court will ultimately decide if they will be released from the juvenile detention facility,” Gregg said.
McNary principal Scott Gragg released a letter to McNary families on the arrests.
“I want you to know that honesty and openness are important to me, and that’s why I wanted to be sure and update you on a situation impacting our school community.
A couple of weeks ago, I sent a letter to you about our school investigating allegations of serious student-athlete misconduct involving our school’s freshman football team.
We have worked with law enforcement in thoroughly investigating the allegations. As a result, five students have been taken into custody by law enforcement and will be facing charges.
We must respect the privacy of those involved and cannot share details involving the investigation or any student disciplinary action.
What I can tell you is that the safety and well-being of our students is always our top priority.
As you know, we take great pride in our student experience to ensure that McNary is a place where all of our students, staff and families belong. We have high expectations for our students and upholding those expectations is part of what makes our school community stronger together.
As a reminder, anyone can make a report regarding safety concerns to our administrative team and also through SafeOregon. You can report a tip through SafeOregon by calling or sending a text to 844-472-3367 anytime. Tips also can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or through the SafeOregon app.
I want to thank you for your understanding, cooperation and support as we have walked through this process.“
“The focus for us is always on the victims and community to make sure that there’s some restorative justice that takes place,” Gregg said. “How do they connect back with the victims if the victims want to have some connection back?”
Many parents, including Michelle Jacobsen, say the school is handling this incident in the right way.
“I’ve always had good experiences at McNary, I feel like they are on top of things,” Jacobsen said. “When things get reported they are handling it. This incident proves that so I feel that my kid is safe here.”
Jacobsen said she hasn’t had a problem with the high school in the past.
“My older son was involved in the football program, we always had a good experience,” she said. “I really trust in the coaches here and their ability to keep our kids safe too.”