Around the room people were nodding yes. They knew who he was talking about, Riviera realized, although he didn't know the name of the young woman. "Charlie's saying she was in a sexual gang-bang kind of situation with a bunch of guys from the football team," he went on.
Elizabeth Portuese, the Glen Ridge social worker, interjected, "Oh, this was with a bunch of football players? Yeah, I heard something about this. They were using a stick. It was with a drumstick."
"Well, I heard it was a baseball bat," Riviera said.
The room was silent. "We have to deal with it," someone said in a whisper that pierced the hush.
"Yes, we have to report it," said another.
"Oh, you have to tell Buonomo [the high school principal] right away," a teacher told Riviera and Portuese. "You can't wait another minute."
Two months later, early on the morning of May 24, detectives arrested Kyle and Kevin Scherzer, Bryant Grober, Peter Quigley and Christopher Archer. That afternoon, Quigley and the Scherzer twins were arraigned in Essex County Court, in Newark. They entered the courtroom with their wrists manacled in front of them. They had placed their team jackets over their hands to hide the handcuffs.
All three were charged with "aggravated sexual assault"—rape in the first degree. Kevin, Kyle and Peter pleaded not guilty. Their parents posted bail.
Chris and Bryant appeared in family court because they had been under the age of 18 on March 1. They too were charged with aggravated sexual assault. (Grober was 18 now and Archer 17.) They pleaded not guilty. Almost three months later two more athletes, Chris's brother, Paul Archer, and his football teammate Richard Corcoran Jr. were arrested and charged with aggravated sexual assault. They pleaded not guilty.
The shock of the arrests left many defenders of the jocks in disarray. But after a day they found a common theme, which turned out to be the repackaging of an old idea in Glen Ridge: that it was the responsibility of young women to curb the cruder instincts of males. The way the friends of the jocks saw it, a boy was helpless against the wiles of the seductress, and it was unfair to blame the guys for the consequences of her lust. That was how they portrayed the incident to the press.