Glassboro High School's star quarterback, who on Saturday led his team to the South Jersey Group I championship, was indicted days before the game on charges that he and another man raped a 15-year-old girl, authorities say.
Justin E. Breaker, 19, of Glassboro, was one of three young men who took part in the April 1 gang rape of a Salem County girl in a Pittsgrove apartment, according to the Salem County Prosecutor's Office. Breaker was indicted on Nov. 28.
School officials say they were unaware until Wednesday that Breaker had even been charged - four days after he led the Glassboro Bulldogs to a 24-7 victory over the Paulsboro Red Raiders.
Breaker, a senior, was suspended from school on Wednesday and will attend the Gloucester County Alternative School in Deptford until his case is resolved, a spokeswoman for the Glassboro Public School District said.
Police charged Breaker; Mark A. Wood, 19, of Pittsgrove; and a 16-year-old youth on April 2, William Brennan, first assistant Salem County prosecutor, said yesterday.
Attempts to reach Breaker and his attorney were unsuccessful yesterday.
The girl, who police said knew the three young men, told state troopers that they were all helping a friend move out of an apartment on Gershal Avenue when Breaker and Wood forced her to have sex with them, state police spokesman Lt. Gerald Lewis said.
Breaker and Wood were jailed in April with bail set at $100,000 each. They posted bonds and remain free, Lewis said.
"We handled it like any other case," Brennan said. "We put together a file, developed records, and sent a rape kit to the lab."
The 16-year-old, whose name was withheld because he is a minor, pleaded guilty in August to a lesser charge, Brennan said. He served a 15-day sentence and received 18 months' probation, according to an Associated Press report.
Interim Glassboro School Superintendent Leonard D. Fitts suspended Breaker immediately after district officials learned of the indictment, district spokeswoman Heather Simmons said. Fitts did not return messages left at his office yesterday.
"To my knowledge nobody knew," Simmons said. "I don't know if anyone at the school has been in touch with the prosecutor's office.
"I'm sure if they [the school] had learned earlier, they would have acted earlier," she said.
Because Breaker is an adult, the prosecutor's office was not obligated to notify schools of his arrests, according to the state Attorney General's Office. Calls to A.P. Schalick High School in Pittsgrove, where Breaker was a student at the time of the alleged attack, were not returned.
The Glassboro district does not have a policy concerning student athletes facing criminal charges and their eligibility to play, Simmons said.
In published reports, a spokesman for the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association has said that group does not have any guidelines either on whether an athlete charged with a crime should be barred from playing. The decision is left to local school districts, he said.
Susette Sabio Jones, a Glassboro school board member, said she learned about the charges this week.
"I'm surprised. I didn't know the first thing about it until I read it in the paper," she said yesterday. "I'd assume that no one knew about this. It's a serious allegation."
According to police, the indictment was delayed while detectives sought to charge the 16-year-old as an adult.
The indictment may jeopardize Breaker's promising football career. He was scouted by Syracuse, Georgia Tech and Rutgers, said Matt Alkire, the Northeast recruiting analyst for Scout.com, which tracks high school athletes.
"He's a heck of a high school player and had a great year at Glassboro," Alkire said. "But the schools will wait and see. His recruiting will certainly be put on hold until it's determined whether he's guilty or not."
Breaker and Wood face 20 years in prison if convicted of the charges, which include aggravated sexual assault, aggravated sexual contact, sexual assault, and criminal restraint, Brennan said.
Brennan would not say whether the 16-year-old would testify against Breaker and Wood.
Breaker transferred to Glassboro in September from Schalick High, where he attended 10th and 11th grades. The reason for the transfer was not immediately available.
As Glassboro's starting quarterback, the 6-foot-tall, 185-pound Breaker led the Bulldogs to a 12-0 season and took the division crown from Paulsboro, which had held the title for two seasons.
Paulsboro School Board Vice President Gerald Hodges Sr. expressed concern yesterday for Breaker and dismissed any suggestion that Glassboro should forfeit the championship title.
Hodges' son Gerald Jr. was starting quarterback for the Red Raiders.
"They won the game fair and square. I don't want to prosper from anyone else's misfortune," said the elder Hodges, who attended the game. "Paulsboro didn't win it on the field."
Hodges said he didn't blame Breaker for playing Saturday, but said he believed "some adults knew about" the pending charges.
"He [Breaker] wanted to win a championship. He was just being a kid and wanted to play football," Hodges said. "My heart goes out to that young man."