HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The Hanover County Sheriff’s Office has announced that, after dozens of interviews, it has completed its investigation into the alleged criminal assaults at Mechanicsville High School.
In consultation with the Hanover Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, the Sheriff’s Office charged two teenage students with simple assault in violation of Virginia Code 18.2-57.
The identities of the two juveniles will be withheld due to their age.
According to a release from the office, an anonymous tip of the alleged assault was first received on Friday, Aug. 19. Deputies took a report of the assault complaint and began an investigation, according to the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office.
“It is alleged these students are members of the football team,” Hanover Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Lt. James Cooper said in a statement last Wednesday. “The Sheriff’s Office is in the process of interviewing multiple individuals.”
The Mechanicsville High School administration was notified of the investigation by police on Friday afternoon.
“It should be noted, the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office was the only entity conducting the criminal investigation,” a release from the Sheriff’s Office reads. “Due to misinformation circulating within the community, the Sheriff’s Office would also like the public to know that we never provided any recommendation or input into the suspension of the Mechanicsville High School football season as that would be outside our scope.”
On Wednesday, Aug. 24, Hanover Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Lt. James Cooper said in a statement, “it is alleged these students are members of the football team.” 8News has since confirmed that both students charged in the investigation were members of the Mechanicsville High School football team.
Also in the initial announcement on Aug. 24, it was announced that the school’s football season would be suspended pending the investigation.
However, less than an hour after the Sheriff’s announcement on Friday, Sep. 2, Mechanicsville High School Principal Charles Stevens made his own announcement, addressed to families, faculty and staff, saying that all football activities would be resumed, effective immediately.
Stevens had sent a separate message to parents and guardians of members of the football team on Thursday, Aug. 25, apologizing for the lack of formal communication during the investigation. Stevens has communicated five times via email and phone messages since Thursday.
Today’s address from Stevens to families, faculty and staff can be read in its entirety below:
Dear Families, Faculty, and Staff,
I am writing today with an important update regarding the status of our football program. As you know, we made the difficult but necessary decision to suspend football practices and games due to serious allegations of misconduct within the program and subsequent investigations – a criminal investigation by the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office and an administrative investigation by the school division. As I have shared repeatedly, the safety of our students has always been and will always be our top priority and drives our decision-making.
I can now share with you that this important and time-consuming work has concluded. We are confident that a thorough accounting of the misconduct concerns within the program has taken place. We would like to extend our gratitude to our partners at the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office. As a result, we are resuming football activities, effective immediately.
While I am unable to share specific details about the investigation and its findings due to confidentiality laws involving juveniles, as well as protections afforded to employee personnel records, please know that those found to be in violation of the Code of Student Conduct and/or School Board policy are being held fully accountable.
Moving forward, our first priority is to begin to establish a positive, supportive culture for the entire football program. We will be working with Coach Reynolds, his coaching staff, and players to establish team norms and will be holding various team building activities and trainings in an effort to build that strong culture.
Thank you for your understanding during this time and for your continued support of our school and football program. I look forward to seeing our students again on Tuesday.
Charles E. Stevens
Mechanicsville High School
Anyone with further information about this case is asked to contact the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office at 804-365-6140.