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Mother of soccer team hazing victim: 'I just want justice'

September 25, 2012 |  6:38 am

Protest
The mother of one of four teenagers allegedly sexually assaulted in a soccer team hazing ritual at La Puente High School said she worried about retaliation and wanted her son "out of this school district."

Four students at La Puente High School were arrested on suspicion of assault in connection with allegations they hazed younger boys on the varsity soccer team by sexually assaulting them a pole, authorities said Monday. A coach, who was not named, has been placed on administrative leave.

Law enforcement sources, not authorized to publicly discuss specifics while the investigation is ongoing, said that in at least one instance there is evidence that a pole or stick was used to sodomize a minor. In that case, the boy sought medical treatment for his injuries.

"I just want justice and my son to be safe," said the woman, who was standing outside the school Monday with about 30 protesters. "I never thought something so awful could happen here."

An attorney who represents three of the alleged victims said Monday the coach knew of the hazing, and the boys' families plan to sue the district.

"A lawsuit is the only way to get any leverage over the school district and to force it change its ways," said Brian Claypool, who also represents dozens of parents in the Miramonte Elementary School case, in which a teacher with the L.A. Unified School District is charged with feeding students his semen.

Claypool told reporters at a news conference the sexual abuse was widespread and that several boys were attacked with a pole inside the soccer storage room — part of a hazing ritual for all new varsity players.

Claypool said two 14-year-old boys were jumped by several older players and then penetrated with a "javelin-like object," while a third boy, 15, "fought for his life" and despite being covered in bruises, managed to fend off the assailants and grab the pole.

The four students were cited and released to their parents last week while prosecutors consider charges. The alleged assaults are believed to have occurred on the 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, who have interviewed more than 70 people so far, 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.

There is no evidence at this stage, Scott said, that the coach was present during the alleged attacks but confirmed that he is under investigation.

"This is deeply disturbing to me and the entire community...." said Hacienda La Puente Unified School District Supt. Barbara Nakaoka, who said the school's parents were notified in a letter and telephone call on Friday. "We do not and will not turn a blind eye to reports of harassment or hazing."

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— Richard Winton

Photo: Concerned parent Manuel Maldonado listens to details of the alleged sexual hazing of boys on the varsity soccer team at La Puente High School. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

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