NORMAN, Okla. - Rape, hazing or horseplay?
Four Norman North students are charged with sexually assaulting a 12- and 16-year-old boy.
A key piece of evidence is video on the bus where the attacks allegedly started.
Some attorneys for the boys charged said the case isn’t what the district attorney is making it out to be.
Attorneys for the students charged and their families have had the opportunity to watch the video for themselves and have strong opinions about it.
Details in the police report are disturbing - two victims allegedly lured to the back of a bus to be sexually assaulted.
Investigators say a 12-year-old boy was “physically restrained” while he was raped by instrumentation over his clothing.
“It was clear from the video this is not a situation of rape,” said attorney Sam Talley.
Talley is the attorney for Tanner Shipman, the 18-year-old charged as an adult.
Talley watched the school bus surveillance video Wednesday afternoon.
“The community needs to know this is not rape the way that word is used day in and day out in our society. This is horseplay, and it got out of hand with some,” Talley said.
Talley won’t say which students are seen doing what, but he claims the case is overcharged.
DA Greg Mashburn disagrees.
He said this wasn’t boys being boys on a school bus.
He said it’s rape.
“The assault kept occurring even once they arrived at their location, certainly goes into the decision making to bring these charges,” Mashburn said.
You’ll remember, investigators said the 12-year-old was sexually assaulted again behind a building at Norman North.
Attorneys for the 17-year-old charged told us their client is not accused of actually touching anyone but is still charged.
“The allegations against him is that he participated in this incident by encouraging the others to perform a form of hazing that had become common place for the wrestlers at Norman North,” said attorney Derek Chance.
So, we asked school officials about that.
They gave us a statement saying in part:
"At this time, we believe this was an isolated incident and have no indication that coaches had any prior knowledge of this behavior." - Norman Public Schools
Here is the statement in full released to NewsChannel 4 from attorneys for the 17-year-old:
“First, we agree the alleged conduct is serious and this conduct must stop. The young men that were the subject of the incident likely experienced pain and humiliation. My client, Hunter Matthews, deeply regrets the incident and offers his most sincere apology to the young men and their families.
We would like to clarify some of the details surrounding the accusations against Hunter and the other young men involved in this incident. They have all been charged with Rape by Instrumentation (alleging digital penetration). Hunter is not accused of touching anyone. The allegations against him is that he participated in this incident by encouraging the others to perform a form of hazing that had become common place for the wrestlers there at Norman North. The act is where one teammate sticks his finger over clothing into the rectum of another teammate. There is no allegation that, during the incident, was there skin-to-skin contact. This sort of behavior had been common place for these young wrestlers. Most had been the subject of this same behavior themselves. I don't believe that anyone of them appreciated that this sort of behavior would lead to criminal charges. This in no way diminishes the seriousness of the act. The recent reports of similar incidents across the metro stresses the importance of education/intervention needed in our schools.” - Derek Chance, attorney for Hunter Matthews