Jeffrey Lewis, a 19-year-old Alexandria man, was arrested yesterday by Alexandria police and charged with the abduction last week of a 15-year-old Fort Hunt High School sophomore, who was subsequently raped in a boys' bathroom at the school while as many as eight juveniles looked on.

Fairfax police said yesterday that the girl was raped at least once and possibly twice in a bathroom stall at Fairfax County's Fort Hunt High on Oct. 3. It is unclear whether more than one person raped the girl, they said. Police had reported Wednesday that the girl was raped by at least two persons.

The assault took place at Fort Hunt, which is south of Alexandria off the George Washington Parkway, as the school's junior varsity football team played Alexandria's T.C. Williams High 200 feet away. A Fort Hunt PTA meeting was going on in the school's cafeteria.

Some students and parents, as well as a local chapter of the National Organization for Women, sharply criticized the handling of the incident by the school system and the failure of police to release information about the assault for a week after it happened. Information was released only after inquiries were made.

Fairfax Prosecutor Robert F. Horan Jr. and county Police Chief Col. Carroll Buracker yesterday defended the decision to withhold information about the crime. Buracker said that in the future he will have final approval on any decision to withhold information about a crime for more than 24 hours.

School officials said yesterday they didn't release information about the incident at the request of police, who said that it was necessary to keep the incident secret in order to protect the investigation during its earliest stages.

"When you don't know the identity of who all is involved," Horan said, "the worst thing that can happen is a newspaper article which might trigger participants to run."

Those who stood by as the rape took place cannot be charged with any crime, Horan said. However, he said that anyone who encouraged or aided in the assault in any way, such as by cheering the participants, could and would be charged as accessories to the crime.

If people did stand by and watch "without lifting a finger to help," Horan said, "it's very disturbing. I just don't buy this 'boys will be boys' notion. I just hope this is an aberration."

Horan said that although the victim and at least half of those present in the bathroom during the attack have been interviewed by police during the last week, a number of critical elements remain unclear: how many times the girl was raped and who raped her; whether any of the onlookers cheered or hooted; and the identities of all those present when the assault took place. The investigation is continuing, police said.

The investigation so far indicates that no students from Fort Hunt High School were involved in the incident, either as participants or spectators, but that students from other schools, including T.C. Williams, were involved, police said.

Dr. William Leonard, acting superintendent of the Alexandria schools, said Alexandria officials were cooperating fully with police, but would take no action against individual students until the police investigation was complete.

Lewis, believed to be the only adult involved, is charged with abduction with intent to defile, a felony that carries a penalty of 20 years to life in prison.

As a result of the assault, county police have offered to provide officers to patrol future non-varsity football games, and school officials said they would consider that offer on a case-by-case basis. There were no police officers at the junior varsity football game when the assault occurred.

Also, Fort Hunt High officials announced that next week they will institute a rape education program for all students, to be administered mainly through physical education classes.

Horan said yesterday that the victim had thoroughly cooperated with police. She was examined at Fairfax Hospital and released the day after the incident. School officials said the girl had returned to class.

Lewis D. Walker, treasurer of the Fort Hunt PTA, said yesterday he was "shocked" that the administration had not told students immediately about the incident.

Michelle McClendon, a junior at the school, said school officials should have put to rest rumors at the school about the incident by giving students the facts they had about the assault.

A female student who asked not to be identified said, "It's been a week and there are still all kinds of different stories popping up."

Frances Hicks, president of the Mount Vernon chapter of NOW and the mother of two daughters at Fort Hunt High, said yesterday she had complained to both school and police officials about failure to release information.

"I get very scared when police select out a crime and withhold information from the public," she said.

The incident comes at a critical time in Fort Hunt's history, with parents and students fighting proposals to close the facility as a high school because of declining enrollment. "People will say, 'Look at what happens at that school. . . . It would be better to just close it,' " said senior Natalie Bayol.

At some point during the football game, Horan said, Lewis allegedly made advances to the female victim, which were rejected. Later, he said, "evidently some people saw him grab the girl" and the two entered the boys' bathroom.

At some point during the assault, officials said, a female friend of the victim sought help from school officials.

Jeff Dietze, athletic director of Fort Hunt, said yesterday that he was approached by several girls attending the football game, who told him a girl had been taken by several men into a bathroom. He said he went immediately to the bathroom, but found both the boys' and girls' bathrooms empty. He said he was unable to pursue his search because the girls who reported the problem had disappeared.

The next morning, friends of the victim reported the incident to school officials, who confirmed it with her and reported it to police, Horan said.

Late yesterday afternoon, Lewis, of 531 N. Alfred St., was taken to the Fairfax County jail and held without bond.