A Mater Dei High School football player told authorities that he was sexually assaulted by his teammates in the campus locker room in late August, according to a police report obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
The alleged incident took place in a locker room on August 31 at the private Santa Ana Catholic school when several football players allegedly forced a teammate to the ground and exposed their genitals, the Times reports. Then they held the victim down as one teammate “began humping” him from behind, through his pants.
The assault occurred two weeks after the victim started attending Mater Dei, which is known nationwide for its storied high school football program. He wasn’t physically injured, but the incident left him suffering from anxiety and prompted him to leave the school shortly afterward, the Santa Ana Police Department said in the report.
Authorities entered the single-page, eight-sentence description of the alleged incident into the police department’s computer system on Sept. 16, but it is unclear whether students, school officials, or family members contacted police.
The police document said the episode was reported to the student’s coach, who informed “school officials,” but did not specify when, the Times reports. Police received secondhand information about the alleged incident from social services, according to the document.
A representative for the student’s family declined to comment to the Times about the incident.
The alleged assault raises new questions about Mater Dei’s commitment to student safety and transparency, as well as the overall culture in the school’s athletic programs and what goes on in their locker rooms.
“It is, and has long been, the Diocese of Orange policy not to comment on matters involving minors, including incidents regarding current and former students,” Bradley Zint, spokesman for the diocese, told the Orange County Register.
“Regarding the assessment at Mater Dei High School, that is ongoing. We have no completion date to announce yet.”
Mater Dei also made headlines in November when the family of a former football player sued the school and the diocese, alleging a culture of hazing and secrecy, the Times reports.
The family alleged in their lawsuit that their son, who was new to the team, was forced to fight a player who was 50 pounds heavier than him in a locker-room hazing ritual called “Bodies” in February, 2021. The student sustained a series of blows to the head that resulted in a concussion and broken nose. The school tried to cover up the student’s injuries by not calling paramedics or contacting his family for 90 minutes, the lawsuit alleges.
Bruce Rollinson, head coach of Mater Dei’s football team, told the boy’s father that he “would be a millionaire if he got paid $100 every time he heard about Bodies or other physical rituals” among the students, the lawsuit said. However, Rollinson later told authorities he had no knowledge of the game.
Mater Dei president Father Walter Jenkins announced at the end of the fall semester that the school had hired a Sacramento law firm, Van Dermyden Makus, to conduct an investigation of safety practices in the school’s athletic programs at the end of the fall semester, the Times reports. Jenkins, who worked at the school for six months, resigned shortly afterward.
A series of other troubling events occurred at Mater Dei after the Bodies suit was filed, including a lawsuit alleging that two football players broke a basketball player’s jaw at the behest of another student, the Times reports.
Videos from 2018 that reveal concerning behavior in the school’s locker rooms also began to circulate following the lawsuit.
One 40-second video, which had the caption “Miss Summer Ball,” showed a crowd of players standing in a circle in the locker room. They laughed and cheered as a shirtless player pulled down his shorts to moon them, then simulated a lap dance and an oral sex act on a clothed player sitting in a chair, the Times reports.
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