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Detectives interview more than 70 in La Puente soccer hazing case

Detectives conduct interviews in La Puente soccer hazing case

L.A. County sheriff's detectives have interviewed more than 70 people over allegations of sexual hazing on the La Puente High School boys' soccer team.

Four students were cited and released to their parents, and prosecutors are considering whether to file charges. The alleged assaults are believed to have occurred on school grounds and are suspected of being part of a hazing ritual for new players on the Warriors' championship varsity soccer team.

Sheriff's Special Victims Unit detectives initiated the investigation after a parent of one of the alleged victims contacted authorities. Detectives have identified at least four students, ages 14 and 15, and believe the hazing has been going on for several years, Sgt. Dan Scott said.

Detectives are investigating the latest case, when a boy on the soccer team was allegedly sodomized in a storage area last spring. So far, four teenage boys have been arrested on suspicion of assault in the hazing.

Authorities said they were investigating whether more suspects were involved. Two of the alleged victims appeared on "Headline News" with Dr. Drew Pinsky and accused as many as 10 older players of being involved in the attacks.

One boy told Pinsky he went to the storage room where they keep soccer equipment and was jumped by 10 players. They asked, "Do you want it the easy way or hard way?" the boy said. He said he tried to run but was grabbed and sexually assaulted.

The 14-year-old boy said he believes the hazing has been going on for some time and that the suspects may have also been victims.

Attorney Brian Claypool said the coach told the alleged victims to go into an athletic storage room, where they were "jumped" by four older soccer players and penetrated with "a javelin-like pole."

"The coach told them to go in the room," Claypool said. "Once inside, four big players pushed them down from behind. My guys fought like crazy. And when they got out, one said he saw the teacher wink at the senior player who attacked him."

That coach has been placed on administrative leave by the school district. Authorities said they do not have any evidence at this stage that he was present during any of the attacks, but they were investigating his role in the incidents.

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--Richard Winton

Photo: Marta, a parent with a son on the soccer team, listens to the graphic details of the alleged hazing of several boys during a news conference by attorney Brian Claypool on Monday. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

 
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