‘This wasn’t innocent hazing’: Utah teen athlete accused of sexually abusing nine juveniles

A Utah teenager faces more than a dozen criminal charges for what Sanpete County prosecutors say was hazing that went too far.

The 16-year-old was charged Friday in the county’s juvenile court with six counts of first-degree felony object rape and four charges of second-degree felony forcible sexual abuse.

Charging records do not give more details about the teen’s alleged criminal behavior. But Sanpete County Attorney Kevin Daniels said the case involves at least nine juvenile victims.

Because the case was filed in juvenile court, Daniels declined to share other details but said the teen “crossed the line.”

“This wasn’t innocent hazing,” he said.

The teen defendant has played baseball, wrestling and football at Gunnison Valley High School, according to news articles. Daniels said the alleged hazing was connected to various high school-level teams, but school district officials said it involved “individual” students and wasn’t directly related to sports.

Two other teens are also under investigation, Daniels said, but added that the youth charged is the only one accused of assaulting “multiple victims.” The county attorney said all of the alleged victims are boys.

The Salt Lake Tribune generally does not identify teenagers charged in juvenile court unless they are certified to stand trial as an adult.

Prosecutors have not yet decided whether they’ll seek to have the case moved to the adult system.

“All our options are on the table,” Daniels said Monday.

The maximum penalty the teen could face in the juvenile system is a stay in a secure facility until age 21. If prosecutors seek to have the case moved to the adult system, he could face the potential of up to life in prison if convicted.

Kent Larsen, the superintendent of South Sanpete School District, said Monday the incidents came to light last week. He said the student who has been charged will not be allowed back at the school until the case is resolved.

Larsen said district officials will continue to investigate the situation to “make sure our policies protected kids.”