Two members of the Glendale Mountain Ridge High School wrestling team are accused of sexually assaulting another member of the team during a December 2016 tournament in Holbrook.
The student wrestler who accused two Mountain Ridge High School teammates of sexually assaulting him during an out-of-town tournament in December said video and photos had been taken of the attack and shared on social media, according to a police report.
The report, obtained from the Glendale Police Department by The Arizona Republic, said the school’s wrestling team was in Holbrook the first week of December for the Pat Kenny Invitational when a teen was reportedly molested by teammates with whom he was sharing a hotel room.
In an interview with Glendale investigators, the accuser said he was relentlessly teased after the incident, according to the report. Four other students approached him in the aftermath to say they had been assaulted in a similar way, the report said.
Here’s what we know about the case:
Four boys in a hotel room
According to the police records, the victim told Glendale police that nothing had occurred in the room during the first night of their two-night stay. His three teammates had wrestled on their beds and then went to sleep. The next morning they went to compete.
That night, they returned to the room and all four boys began to wrestle on the beds, the victim said, according to the report. One of the boys told the victim to stop and when the victim didn’t stop, the boy told him he was “being annoying.” The victim continued to wrestle until the boy threatened him with sexual assault.
The victim told police he didn’t actually believe his teammate would do it, but the boy then put the victim in a hold, pinning his arms behind him and pressing the victim’s face onto the bed.
The victim said he was lying face down when a second boy assaulted him while another boy recorded the assault on his cellphone, the police report said.
The victim said he attempted to fight off the boys, but when he was able to get one hand free, he was placed in a choke hold. He said he struggled to breathe and afterward had bloodshot eyes, according to the police report.
Moments later, the victim was released and the other boys went to bed, acting “like nothing ever happened,” the police report said.
The victim told police he cried that night and couldn’t sleep. He told police that on the bus back to Glendale the next day, he heard people talking and laughing about what had happened.
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Bullying on campus
Evidence of the assault had circulated among students via social media such as on Snapchat and through text, the victim told police. The images and footage were texted to him as well.
The bullying lasted several weeks, the police report said.
The police report also said the victim told police several other students approached him and said, “What’s the big deal? It happened to me. It’s happened to a lot of kids.”
The victim told police four other students told him a similar assault had happened to them. It was unknown if the other students were wrestlers on campus, as the victim did not provide police with their names, according to the report.
Statements and calls made by suspects
One of the boys from the hotel room later approached the victim on campus and apologized for not helping him the night of the incident, the police report said.
Also, one of the suspects and his father called a family member of the victim and apologized for what had occurred but did not speak directly to the victim, the police report said.
Records show that two of the three other boys who were in the room are considered suspects in the case.
The school informed police that the suspects had been contacted and were asked to fill out “student statement pages,” a standard procedure for the district, the police report said.
In both statements, the suspects admitted to being a part of the incident, records said. The suspects indicated that while in the hotel room in Holbrook, they held the victim down and assaulted him. One of the suspects wrote he recorded the incident.
A detective from the Holbrook Police Department contacted a father of one of the suspects, who said he had heard a lot of rumors involving his son and that he “wanted to clear all of the rumors,” according to a report from Holbrook police.
The detective also reached out to the father of the second suspect, records show.
The fourth boy in the hotel room was contacted by Holbrook police, and he said he was asleep during the incident and that he didn’t hear anything except for the victim screaming, the Holbrook police report said. The fourth boy said that the boys were simply wrestling and then went to bed.
Accused students no longer at Mountain Ridge
The two accused students were disciplined by school officials and are no longer at the Glendale school, according to Monica Allread, a Deer Valley Unified School District spokeswoman.
Allegations surfaced, Allread said, when the family member of the teen who said he was attacked contacted the school administration more than a week after the trip. Administrators immediately contacted the school resource officer, who assisted the family member in making a police report.
Allread said the wrestling coach was then notified. The coach had not been aware of a situation until after the family member reported it to the school administration, Allread said.
Administrators contacted every parent who had a wrestler in the program and made parents aware that there was a serious incident and that school officials had taken the appropriate action and disciplinary consequences, according to the school district.
“Corrective actions have been taken that include: more character education for our student-athletes, intentional room assignments when traveling for athletics/activities, and increased education to student-athletes on all of the systems for reporting any actions that compromise the safety of themselves or others,” Allread said.
Case sent to Navajo County Juvenile Court
Glendale police said they have forwarded their reports to the Holbrook Police Department and assisted in their investigation.
None of the suspects has been arrested and the case has been submitted to the Navajo County Juvenile Court System, said Lt. Jack Arend, a spokesman for Holbrook police.
According to records, the victim told police he wanted to press charges against the suspects.
Navajo County Attorney Brad Carlyon told The Republic on Wednesday afternoon that his office has requested, following a review of the case that was submitted a few weeks ago, that Holbrook police conduct a further investigation.
Several more questions need to be answered, Carlyon said, and the video regarding the incident needs to be produced.
According to police reports, forensic images and videos were extracted from both the victim’s and one of the suspect’s phone by Glendale police.
While no charging decisions have been made, the suspects, both minors, could possibly face charges as adults because the victim was 15 at the time of the assault, Carlyon said.
Increased education for student-athletes
Mountain Ridge High School administrators investigated the incident and spoke with parents of all members of the wrestling team in December, according to Allread.
In addition, she said several actions are being taken by the school administration, including providing increased education to student-athletes on the many systems for reporting any actions that compromise the safety of themselves or others.
“Students are always encouraged to report incidents to administration,” Allread said in a statement.
She said no other incidents have been reported since the allegations surfaced in December.
Allread said the school is continuing to take all necessary actions and continues to provide support for the victim.
Character education and a review of guidelines for expected behavior by student-athletes is ongoing, Allread said.
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