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Alleged Beating of Boy, 13, by Deputies Is Probed

Crime: The teenager was hurt at a sheriff's program for at-risk youth, his family says. The investigation is termed a priority.

June 11, 2002|From Times Staff Reports

Los Angeles County sheriff's officials said Monday that they are investigating allegations that deputies beat a 13-year-old boy over the weekend at a program for at-risk teens.

Christian Preciado's family said he was severely beaten and choked Saturday after he failed to do enough push-ups. He was attending Vital Intervention in Directional Alternatives, a 16-week program sponsored by the Sheriff's Department.

The family's lawyer, Howard Levine, said Christian received no medical care after the incident at East Los Angeles College. Instead, he stayed until the end of the day and then was taken to the hospital by his family.

"He looks pretty bad," Levine said Monday during a news conference at the family's Boyle Heights home. The boy has bloodshot eyes and a bruised face, the lawyer said.

Deputy Richard Westin said the investigation is "a priority." More than 40 witnesses will be interviewed, including staff members, volunteers and participants, he said.

Levine said the family plans to file a lawsuit.

Although the courts refer many teens to the program, Levine said Christian's family decided to enroll him, at a cost of $90, because he was having disciplinary problems at school.

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