Three teens charged in La Puente High soccer team sexual hazing
Three teens arrested in connection with alleged sexual hazing of young members on the La Puente High School soccer team have been charged with various sexual assault and battery charges, prosecutors said.
The names of the three boys were not released by prosecutors because they are minors. They were arrested last month following an investigation by the L.A. County sheriff's Special Victims Unit, which found that two soccer players had been sexually assaulted in a storage closet with a stick.
They boys were all charged in juvenile court and are due to appear in a Pomona juvenile court Nov. 19.
Two of the boys, both 17, were charged with 10 counts each, including one felony count of sexual penetration with a foreign object, one felony count of assault with a deadly weapon, four misdemeanor counts of sexual battery and four misdemeanor counts of hazing. A 16-year-old boy was charged with six counts, including felony sexual penetration with a foreign object, felony assault with a deadly weapon and two misdemeanor counts each of hazing and sexual battery.
Prosecutors allege the boys sodomized one victim with a pole-like object; three others victims were sexually battered.
Four victims who reported the assault told authorities the ritual was known as the "pole tradition" and that they were terrified to walk into the school equipment room.
Authorities said they were also looking into the coach's involvement but have found no evidence that he participated in the assault.
Brian Claypool, an attorney for four victims, said the boys were initially reluctant to come forward.
"These boys were ashamed and embarrassed," he said.
According to legal claims parents filed against the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District, the hazing has gone on for years.
One 17-year-old boy was “brutally assaulted" last May after he entered the storage room to return some equipment, the claim alleges. He was attacked by varsity team members who carried a long pole with a sharp end while other players recorded the attack with their cellphones.
“Do you want it the easy way or the hard way?” one of the suspects allegedly asked.
A 14-year-old boy described a similar account of the "pole tradition" and told authorities he was jumped by teammates when he entered the equipment room.
A second 14-year-old claimed he was assaulted through his clothing in an attack that left his underwear and jeans bloody, the claim alleges.
One 15-year-old was also attacked, but the claim said he fought back so hard during the six-minute assault that the assailants finally gave up.
Hacienda La Puente Unified School District Supt. Barbara Nakaoka said she could not comment on the investigation.
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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