NAPA (CBS SF) — A civil complaint filed Thursday on behalf of a student who says he was sexually assaulted by his teammates on the Napa High School football team alleges coaches and school administrators failed to protect him against the hazing ritual.
The lawsuit claims that the Napa Valley Unified School District, along with three coaches and the principal, allowed a long-standing pervasive hazing culture “to progress year after year without intervention or protection of student victims, because of the success enjoyed by the football program.”
The lawsuit alleges, “The aggressive, violent and brutal attack was part of a tradition of ritualistic hazing of football players at Napa High School” and claims the plaintiff is among as many as 16 victims of the hazing rituals within the football program over several years.
The school district told CBS San Francisco on Friday that their longstanding practice is not to comment on ongoing litigation and have declined to comment on the complaint.
The juvenile plaintiff, listed in the complaint only as B. Doe, joined the school’s junior varsity football team in the fall of 2016.
On October 31, 2016, the complaint alleges, the plaintiff was in the locker room in his underwear after practice leading up to a “Big Game” when at least five teammates grabbed him, forced him to the ground, and held him there as they “grabbed his genitals, beat him, and penetrated his anus through his underwear with their fingers.”
One attacker allegedly told the victim, as he shoved his hand into the victim’s underpants, that it would hurt less if he stopped struggling.
The lawsuit claims there was more than one victim that day, alleging other freshmen players were also attacked in a similar manner as onlooking football players cheered.
The attacks were eventually halted, not by coaches, but by the appearance of a school maintenance worker, the complaint alleges.
According to the complaint, the victim’s attackers and their parents harassed him after he reported the incident and news of the sexual battery allegations were made public.
The victim transferred to another school in the district, but alleges in the complaint that the parents of one of the attackers continue to harass him. John and Flora Torres, the parents of a student described in the complaint as “the ringleader” of the assault, are also named as defendants in the complaint.
Seventeen juveniles were referred to the Napa County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.
As of May 2017, criminal charges were filed against six juveniles and 11 cases were still under investigation.
School district officials told CBS San Francisco they recommended 11 students for expulsion and of those cases, three were withdrawn before expulsion for various reasons.
Of the eight students expelled, three cases were appealed and overturned by the Napa County Board of Education. Five students remain expelled as of June 30. One case remains to be determined, district officials told CBS San Francisco.
Thus far, no criminal charges have been filed against the coaches.
However, in the lawsuit filed this week, coaches Gerald Harris, Troy Mott, and Jesus ‘Chuy’ Martinez are all named as defendants.
The lawsuit alleges that the students were not adequately supervised.
“Despite their knowledge of the heinous acts of male-on-male physical and sexual assault which were part of the football program’s hazing rituals… [the defendants] condoned the rituals and left the football players unsupervised so they could undertake them, and thereby failed to protect students…” the complaint alleges.
Furthermore, the complaint states that the school district’s response to the reporting of the sexual violence was ” itself harassing, negligent and indifferent to the harm to plaintiff.”
By Hannah Albarazi – Follow her on Twitter: @hannahalbarazi.