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Three teens charged with sexually hazing soccer players

The youths, all minors, are accused of sexual penetration with a foreign object, felony assault and battery.

November 06, 2012|By Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times
  • Concerned parent Manuel Maldonado listens to details of the alleged sexual hazing of boys on the varsity soccer team at La Puente High School.
Concerned parent Manuel Maldonado listens to details of the alleged sexual… (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)

Three teenagers arrested in connection with alleged sexual hazing of younger members of the La Puente High School soccer team have been charged with various sexual assault and battery charges, prosecutors said Tuesday.

The names of the three boys were not released because they are minors. They were arrested last month after an investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Special Victims Unit.

The boys were charged in Juvenile Court. Their next court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 19.

Two of the boys, both 17, were charged with 10 counts each: 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: 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 that the boys sodomized one victim with a pole-like object; three other victims were sexually battered.

Four victims who reported the assault told authorities that the ritual was known as the "pole tradition" and that they were terrified to walk into the school equipment room.

Authorities said they were looking into the coach's involvement but have found no evidence that he participated in the alleged assaults.

Brian Claypool, an attorney for the four victims, said the boys were initially reluctant to come forward.

"These boys were ashamed and embarrassed," he said.

According to parents' legal claims against the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District, the hazing has gone on for years.

One 17-year-old boy was "brutally assaulted" in 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.

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 said 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.

richard.winton@latimes.com

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