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Judge closes courtroom in Damascus High sex-assault case

One of the 15-year-old defendants had been expected to plead guilty to several counts after a freshman football player was sexually assaulted with a broomstick.

ROCKVILLE, Md. — The shocking case drew national attention: Four high school football players were accused in October of barging into the freshman locker room at Damascus High School to sexually assault freshmen with a broomstick.

But now we may struggle to find out how the justice system deals with the accused. Judge Mary Beth McCormick of Montgomery County Circuit Court sealed the juvenile courtroom Thursday to all but victims, defendants and their lawyers.

One of the 15-year-old defendants had been expected to plead guilty to several counts. But the outcome of the hearing is unknown because the judge prohibited anyone present from talking about it.

Under Maryland law, juvenile records are sealed but juvenile hearings are open to the public unless a judge rules otherwise.

MAY 14: Damascus High football program under 'probationary oversight'
► MAY 7: Damascus High principal resigns amid broom rape scandal

WUSA9 argued that the community has an interest in the outcome of the case. But the judge ruled that because both the victims and defendants are children, the courtroom should be cleared.

Defense lawyer David Felsen had asked to close the proceedings.

Because of the gravity of the crime, the high school students had been charged as adults. The police and other media outlets published their names, but WUSA9 never did.

► MARCH 21: Father of Damascus High rape victim lashes out at judge
► NOV. 26: 4 Damascus HS students facing rape charges released on bond

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