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California student arrested on suspicion of sex assault is released

By Jennifer Sinco Kelleher

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 01:42 p.m. HST, Aug 26, 2013

Police have released a Southern California high school football player who was arrested on suspicion of sex assault while on a school trip to play against Hawaii teams.

The 17-year-old was arrested for third-degree sex assault, but prosecutors declined to pursue charges, police spokeswoman Teresa Bell said today.

Authorities wouldn’t comment on the arrest because it involves juveniles.

The arrest generated reports of hazing and sex assault, but it was nothing more than an altercation in a hotel room that involved students shouting and punching, said Conejo Valley Unified School District Superintendent Jeff Baarstad. “We believe that’s the extent of it, but we’re going to continue to investigate it.”

About 150 students were in Hawaii last week to play three football games. On Wednesday, during a visit to Pearl Harbor, a freshman player began teasing a varsity player and knocked off his cap, Baarstad said.

“Some of the varsity players who saw it thought it was disrespectful,” he said.

That night at the hotel, some varsity players went to the room of the freshman involved to confront him.

“When you talk about a group of 14- to 17-year-old young men, it quickly escalated into shouting and shoving and punches being thrown,” Baarstad said.

Coaches broke it up and five players weren’t allowed to play in Friday’s game against Waipahu High School, he said.

Someone went to Honolulu police, resulting in one arrest and one player being detained but quickly released, Baarstad said.

“We’re assuming it came from a parent. We’re assuming but we don’t know,” he said. “Someone went to the police and made an allegation and we can only surmise there was a sexual assault allegation.”

Baarstad said about 70 percent of the students’ parents were on the weeklong trip. The students and parents returned to Ventura County on Saturday.

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