Four middle-school teens in Tampa, Fla., are facing charges as adults for the sexual assault of a member of their flag-football team, according to CNN.
They are charged with four counts each of sexual battery after using broomsticks and hockey sticks to sexually assault the 13-year-old boy on their team over a two-month period.
The defendants, three age 14 and one age 15, were arrested in early May and placed in a juvenile detention center, but released on house arrest the next day. Their charges were elevated to adult status this week. Each charge carries a maximum 30 years in prison.
Because they now face adult charges, they no longer receive the anonymity that juvenile courts provide. Each defendant’s name and photo has been published across major media outlets.
Three of the teens are out on bond as of Thursday, and have been fitted with electronic monitoring devices, according to the St. Petersburg Times.
Although the teens signed confession letters, each maintains his innocence. Criminal defense attorneys hope to paint the defendants as good students who have never before been in trouble.