MARTINEZ -- Seven members of the Alhambra High School freshman boys' football team were suspended last week for allegedly hazing a teammate.

Police are also investigating the incident, which took place before practice on Sept. 29. According to the school district, a group of players taped the 15-year-old victim's legs together, held him down on the locker room floor and punched him several times. The incident, captured in a cell phone video later confiscated by school district administrators, lasted about one to two minutes, Assistant Superintendent Rick Rubino said.

"A couple of the players thought it would be a funny idea to grab one of the kids," Rubino said. "I guess they had targeted him for a reason. We don't know exactly why. There was a Facebook post saying he was arrogant, but we don't know."

Rubino said the victim and the other players in the locker room finished putting on their uniforms and reported to the football field after the incident. None of the students told the coaches what happened. The victim told his parents that night and they contacted administrators the next day, Rubino said. The district canceled the team's Sept. 30 game.

Administrators used the cell phone video to identify the students involved in the incident. Six students were suspended for five days each and kicked off the football team, and the district is trying to expel the alleged ringleader, Rubino said. One student was suspended for a day, and although he is still on the team, Rubino said coaches may bench him for one or more upcoming games.


Advertisement

The victim's parents also reported the incident to Martinez police, who are conducting a criminal investigation.

"Irrespective of what the school district does, at some point we will present the case to the district attorney's office and they can assess it for charges," police Cmdr. Gary Peterson said.

The victim stayed home Friday and returned to school Monday, according to Rubino. He is still on the football team, he added.

"There was no physical injury, but certainly the kid's feelings were hurt and there was certainly some emotional injury to the kid knowing that his teammates would do this to him," Rubino said.

Rubino said this is the first reported incident of team hazing at Alhambra in the 15 years that Athletic Director Pat Ertola has been at the school. Rubino suggested students may be mimicking television shows such as "Hard Knocks," the HBO series that followed the New York Jets football team's training camp, or reports of team hazing at universities.

The district has assigned staff to supervise to the girls' and boys' locker rooms after school this week, and plans to hire people to do that job permanently. The district also is holding a workshop about cyberbullying and social networking at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 12 in the performing arts building at Alhambra.

Lisa P. White covers Martinez and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.