Third suspect in alleged Damascus HS rape will be moved to juvenile court

Montgomery County Circuit Court. (File Logo)

ROCKVILLE – The attorney of a fourth high school student facing adult charges in the alleged Damascus High School sexual assault incident said in late-December he wanted his client’s case to be moved to juvenile court.

Daniel Wright, attorney for 15-year-old Damascus sophomore Jean Claude Abedi, filed a motion for transfer to juvenile court for a study of his client and to request a hearing on his motion, because he believes his client, if convicted, would need the treatment that a facility, institution or program for juveniles would offer.

“The juvenile system is better equipped than an adult court to rehabilitate the minor if he is found responsible for the offenses charged,” Wright wrote in the motion.

On Jan. 3, Montgomery County Circuit Court administrative judge Robert Greenberg ordered the Juvenile Services Agency to conduct a study of Abedi, of “his environment and [of] other matters relevant to the disposition of the case and report said findings to the court and counsel” by Jan. 29, according to court documents. He ordered that a hearing be scheduled before Judge Steven Salant for Wright’s motion for transfer, followed by a pre-trial the same day.

A grand jury indicted Abedi and three other teenagers for as adults for first-degree rape.

The suspects and victims were all members of the Damascus junior varsity football team.

Ramon Korionoff, spokesperson for the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office, said on Thursday that given the fact that the cases could still be moved to juvenile court, he will not comment on them.

Wright said he believes the sequence in which the attorneys submitted motions for transfer is irrelevant because the cases are going to be presented to a judge together.

“All the cases are going to be decided at about the same time by the same judge, so I don’t know that it matters who files first or second,” said Wright.

Wright said he is considering requesting that the cases be severed from each other. Another attorney already requested severing the cases.

A Damascus High School parent, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because his son is a member of the junior varsity football team, said the Damascus High School community right now is “standing by,” waiting to see what happens with the suspects’ cases in court.

“We’re anxious to see if they [the suspects] are going to plea or [plea] bargain, juvenile, adult, or whatever,” the parent said.

Members of the junior varsity football team and their families had a meeting with Principal Casey Crouse in December, Montgomery County Public Schools spokesperson Gboyinde Onijala confirmed.

The parent said that during the meeting with the principal and an assistant superintendent in December, he was disappointed with the information given about the future of safety protocol at the school. During the meeting, he and a few parents “challenged” team members.

“I know the kids are making a really good effort” to talk to the alleged victims, the father said Friday.

“I consider all people family here,” the father said of the high-school community. The shocking locker room incident doesn’t change that atmosphere, he said.

MCPS has made no comment on the four motions for transfer, because the students’ criminal cases pertain to the court and not the school system, Onijala said.

Onijala said MCPS’s investigation of the incident is ongoing.

“That’s all currently under investigation to see where there was a lapse in supervision [of the students],” Onijala said Monday.

Security procedures for the safety of students in the locker rooms at the school have not changed since the locker room incident, due to the ongoing MCPS investigation, Onijala said.

“Currently, students are supervised, coaches are there at the school while students get ready for practice,” said Onijala.

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