The episode occurred in June at California State University (CSU) Sacramento, where the junior varsity and varsity teams were attending a weeklong summer camp with other teams from around the state.
According to witnesses, who wish to remain anonymous, the incident – which occurred on June 27 – involved an assault on several members of the JV team, at least one of whom was held down by varsity players while another tried to insert a stick of Icy Hot muscle balm into his rectum. The victim managed to escape. No serious injuries were reported.
Brentwood Police Sgt. Tim Herbert, whose team has been assisting the CSU campus police in its investigation, said the players might eventually face criminal charges, but since the investigation is still underway he couldn’t specify what the charges might be.
Herbert said his department was contacted by Liberty High School authorities on June 29, two days after the incident. He said that when he contacted CSU to let them know he would be forwarding a report, his impression was that the campus police had no knowledge of the event. Herbert added that the Brentwood end of the investigation was completed this week and that a copy of the report was on its way to the CSU police.
“What they do now is up to them (CSU police),” said Herbert, who added that it appeared at least 15 boys were involved in the incident. “The question becomes: does it rise to the level of a criminal offense? And that is up to the DA to decide.”
Liberty High School Principal Pat Walsh said he met this week with several of the alleged perpetrators’ parents, who asked him to reverse the decision to permanently remove the students from the team.
“I reviewed the facts and decided that the initial decision made by the coach was the correct one,” said Walsh. “I think the important part of the message is that we have an expectation that our students will behave a certain way, and they didn’t do that … I support the coach’s decision to remove them.”
But parents of the victims are not satisfied with the school’s decision to merely kick the players off the team. They also want to see varsity football coach Nate Smith fired for his handling of the incident.
“This is flat-out hazing,” said the parent of one player who was present at the outset of the incident but not targeted. “I don’t want my kid under (Smith’s) care.”
Smith said he was unable to comment on the situation. “I can’t offer any of the specifics at this time,” he said, “because we are still in the process of meeting with the families.”
According to Liberty Union High School District Superintendent Eric Volta, Smith adhered to protocol following the incident and filed a report with campus police. Volta said Smith also notified the parents of the players involved.
“Right now I am looking at the way Liberty is handling this and I am confident they are taking appropriate and fair action to all the families involved,” said Volta. “This is one of those difficult, lousy situations that no matter what happens, people will be unhappy, so we just have to do what we feel is the right and lawful and appropriate thing to do. And I think that is what everyone has done.”