Sahuarita police on Thursday arrested nine members of the Sahuarita High School wrestling team after a freshman was forced to the ground in the locker room, his pants removed and several attackers performed a lewd act.
The nine students were charged with aggravated assault and kidnapping in the Tuesday afternoon incident, and police have said there could be more arrests.
None of the accused was in school Thursday, but Superintendent Manny Valenzuela declined to say whether they had been suspended. Three of the suspects are 18 and were identified by police as Andres Vasquez of Amado, Jorge Loya-Lopez of Sahuarita, and Marcus Stitts of Sahuarita. The six juveniles arrested were not identified.
Police termed the attack a “bullying/hazing” incident and said the freshman is not on the wrestling team. They said the victim did not come forward and they were notified of the incident about 8:45 a.m. Wednesday by somebody who came to the police department. They spent Wednesday and well into the early hours Thursday interviewing witnesses and suspects before announcing the arrests.
Wrestling coach Tom Dorgan told the Sahuarita Sun/Green Valley News by email that he is still gathering information and wouldn’t comment yet. Dorgan, who has coached wrestling at the school for 33 years, said they would continue the season. But Valenzuela said it hasn’t been determined whether the team, which is in the middle of the season, will continue to compete, and that the decision depends on the outcome of the police investigation.
Valenzuela said Thursday afternoon that he had not talked to Dorgan and couldn’t say whether there was an adult in the area when the attack occurred. He said policy states that students are supervised at all times.
Sahuarita Police Sgt. Matt McGlone said an adult was in the building at the time but that they do not routinely go in the locker room shower/dressing area. He didn't know how long the attack went on but said it was not prolonged.
He said district officials have been in touch with the victim’s family.
“The mere allegation of something like this is sad,” Valenzuela said, adding the district has a strong focus on “the safe and positive learning environments in our schools.”
Athletic director Chris Fanning and Sahuarita High School principal Kent Thompson directed inquiries to Valenzuela, who said they are cooperating with police and plan their own investigation.
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