Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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Three Bronx Science Boys Charged With Forcible Touching, Hazing Fellow Student

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Three boys belonging to the Bronx High School of Science's track team have been arraigned on charges of brutally hazing and assaulting a fellow team member between December to late February, and now the entire team has been barred from competing during the investigation. NY1's Education reporter Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

Three Bronx High School Of Science students have been charged with forcible touching, assault, hazing and harassment of a younger student.

The criminal complaint says most of the incidents involved Pier Berkmans, the 17-year-old star of the Bronx Science track program.

A freshman member of the men's team says the three older team members started assaulting him in late December and that it continued through last week.

Berkmans is accused of forcibly touching the freshman numerous times, saying things like "You're going to get a rape."

The other two defendants, 16-year-old students Boubacar Diallo and Thomas Brady, are accused of participating in the touching and helping pin down the victim.

Last Monday, Diallo allegedly said, "Don't resist and we won't hurt you," as the victim was held down and assaulted.

The three were arrested on Thursday.

Students at Bronx Science told NY1 on Monday that violent hazing is not common.

"It's an extremely rare case at Bronx Science. Bronx Science is a very respectful school, kids love to pursue learning," one student said.

"Teams haze everywhere, in different amounts, but Bronx Science, it's a safe school," another student said. "It's a prestigious school, it's a safe school and the administration is doing everything they can to stop anything like this happening again."

On Friday, Principal Valerie Reidy sent a letter home, asking parents to be "vigilant in noticing any possible changes in the behavior or demeanor of your child."

She wrote, "We understand that not all members of the team were involved in the hazing, however, at this time, we do not know the magnitude or severity of the incidents and who specifically is involved."

Several track team members, including Berkmans, had qualified to compete in the state indoor championships this past Saturday. But Reidy said the track team is suspended from participating in any events until the investigation is complete.

Just three days before his arrest, Berkmans had been part of a four-man relay team that won the city championship. On the Bronx Science website, they were congratulated on a "thrilling victory." The message was subsequently deleted.

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