Lawsuit: New Mexico soccer player raped by team members

Hazing

Members of a southeastern New Mexico high school soccer team raped a young teammate, recorded the sexual assault of another player and subjected other players to violent sexual acts as part of hazing, according to a federal lawsuit.

The lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque by a parent of a player alleges her son was raped by Hobbs High School soccer teammates in 2016 shortly after another player was sexually assaulted on a bus, the Hobbs News-Sun reported .

The lawsuit alleges a video showed soccer players sexually assaulting a boy two years ago and that a coach told players to delete the cellphone video.

Attorney Joseph Zebas represents that player and one other.

Hobbs Municipal Schools Superintendent T.J. Parks declined to comment on the lawsuit. But he said this month the district was investigating alleged player misconduct within the boys' soccer program.

According to the lawsuit, the hazing of younger players on the boys' varsity soccer team dates back to the 2015 fall season and included sexual assaults.

Zebas said the hazing incidents cross the line.

"We use the term hazed but it consists 'tea bagging.' I don't want to go into the description of that. But the team would also use what you call 'dog pilling,' Zebas said.

The assaults frequently happened in front of coaching staff who did nothing to stop the abuse and did not report it, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit said the 13-year-old rape victim became withdrawn, irritated and lost his desire to play soccer. His mother became concerned and inspected his phone, discovering the video of the alleged Sept. 17, 2016, assault of the boy on the bus, court documents said.

"We know that information was generated throughout the school by video. Many of the kids had it, it got circulated. The coaches gathered the team together after the videotaping of the "tea bagging'" incident and advised the players that it had to be deleted, that it could hurt the program and not to talk about it again," Zebas said.

The mother reported the video to Hobbs High School administrators, who took no action, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit alleged another sexual assault occurred earlier this school year, when the boys' soccer team was on an overnight, out-of-town trip. It alleges several younger players were held against their will in a hotel room in El Paso, Texas, and were sexually assaulted by several older players.

Zebas said he does not have details of the El Paso incident nor he represents those victims but did say that others are coming forward.

“It makes our lawsuit more legitimate and appropriate and shocking to the conscience. Had the school responded appropriately in 2016, certainly the other events could have been prevented,” Zebas said.

Hobbs police Chief Chris McCall said Monday the Hobbs Police Department is investigating the alleged El Paso incident. He said police will forward findings to the El Paso Police Department.

The lawsuit, which names Parks, coaches, current and former administrators, seeks unspecified monetary damages.

Zebas said it is a bad situation for the victims and for those accused.

You feel for the victims and you feel for the individuals that have been accused of committing these harmful acts. Why? Because some of the individuals that are being accused of committing these wrongdoings were victims several years ago and they are now being disciplined and suspended and kicked off the team for recent events that have taken place in the El Paso area,” Zebas said. "For some (victims) they've been able to live through the trauma. For some, it has been a shocking experience and they have had to seek treatment."

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