NORWOOD, Colo. — At the state high-school wrestling tournament in Denver last year, three upperclassmen cornered a 13-year-old boy on an empty school bus, bound him with duct tape and sodomized him with a pencil.
For the boy and his family, that was only the beginning.
The students were from Norwood, Colo., a ranching town of about 500 people near the Telluride ski resort. Two of the attackers were sons of Robert Harris, the wrestling coach, who was president of the school board. The victim's father was the K-12 principal.
After the principal reported the incident to police, townspeople forced him to resign. Students protested against the victim at school, put "Go to Hell" stickers on his locker and wore T-shirts that supported the perpetrators. The attackers later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges, according to the Denver district attorney's office.
"Nobody would help us," said the victim's father, who asked not to be named to protect his son's privacy. Bloomberg News doesn't identify victims of sexual assault. "We contacted everybody and nobody would help us," he said.
High-school hazing and bullying used to involve name- calling, towel-snapping and stuffing boys into lockers. Now, boys sexually abusing other boys is part of the ritual. More than 40 high school boys were sodomized with foreign objects by their teammates in over a dozen alleged incidents reported in the past year, compared with about three incidents a decade ago, according to a Bloomberg review of court documents and news accounts.
Among them, boys were raped with a broken flagpole outside Los Angeles; a metal concrete-reinforcing bar in Fontana, Calif.; a jump-rope handle in Greenfield, Iowa; and a water bottle in Hardin, Mo., according to court rulings and prosecutors.
At New York's elite Bronx High School of Science, three teenage track-team members were arrested after a freshman teammate alleged they repeatedly hazed him between December and February, including holding the boy down and sodomizing him with their fingers. They pleaded not guilty in New York state criminal court in the Bronx, according to Melvin Hernandez, a spokesman for the Bronx District Attorney's office. A lawyer for one of the boys was unavailable for comment; the other two declined to comment.