Four teenage soccer players have accused teammates at La Puente High School of luring them into a ritual of hazing and sexual assault to initiate them into the varsity soccer team, on school grounds, in a room next to the coach’s office.
The victims were as young as 14 years old and the alleged events are believed to have happened in May. One player was allegedly hospitalized.
The victims’ attorney said the soccer coach “lured young boys to a back room to facilitate varsity members of the team sexually assaulting the boys by attempting to sodomize them with a foreign object… This has been taking place for at least two years, possibly longer,” the attorney said. The victims’ attorney has also claimed the school attempted to cover up the hazing incidents and that they “knew or should have known that these horrific acts were being carried out on school grounds.”
Officials said a mother of one of the alleged victims alerted authorities in early September after she heard her son crying in his room and he told her what happened.
The coach of the boys’ soccer team has been placed on paid administrative leave, said Barbara Nakaoka, superintendent of Hacienda La Puente Unified School District. Nakaoka declined to identify the coach. “This is deeply disturbing to me and the entire community,” Nakaoka said. “We do not and will not turn a blind eye to reports of harassment or hazing.”
Four people were cited and could face charges, pending a review by the Los Angeles District Attorney, said Sgt. Dan Scott, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Special Victims Unit. Three of the four people arrested are minors, and one has since turned 18, according to Scott. These four people were night identified and all four were released to their parents.
“We believe there was hazing and assault, but no teachers or faculty members are believed to be involved,” Scott said. He said authorities conducted interviews with more than 70 boys at the high school, but noted that the investigation is ongoing. Sheriff’s officials were notified of the accusations about two weeks ago, following a complaint from the mother of one the alleged victims. “We are looking at all sports because the allegations of assault occurred over a few years, and there are multiple allegations,” Scott said.
Parents arrived on campus Monday to vent their frustration and demand answers. They displayed signs and banners, calling for school officials to be held accountable if the allegations prove true. School officials told reporters Monday that they are cooperating with law enforcement and have taken immediate steps to determine whether any policies were violated.
If you have been the victim of sexual assault or have been accused of committing sexual assault, it is important to seek immediate representation from experienced and knowledgeable attorneys. It’s every parent’s desire to see their children grow to be healthy productive individuals, but often times kids make mistakes and find themselves within the legal system. Attorney Don Ho, LLP, is experienced in representing juveniles in delinquency cases and navigating the long term consequences of those being accused.