Wrestler, 14, released; faces charges in Sahuarita locker-room assault

2013-01-30T00:00:00Z 2013-01-30T10:38:57Z Wrestler, 14, released; faces charges in Sahuarita locker-room assaultCarmen Duarte Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 30, 2013 12:00 am  • 

A 14-year-old Sahuarita High School wrestler who is facing kidnapping and aggravated assault charges was released from the Pima County Juvenile Detention Center to his parents Tuesday.

The boy, whom the Star is not naming because his case is being heard in juvenile court, is among seven Sahuarita High wrestlers facing charges in connection with a Jan. 15 assault on a student in the high school's gym locker room.

Before Juvenile Court Presiding Judge Karen Adam ruled on the release, Attorney Michael Vaughan, who represents the boy, told Adam that the teen is not a flight risk and does not have a prior record.

The victim's father told Adam that his son and family are undergoing a "very stressful" and difficult time since his son was attacked. He said his son has begun counseling.

The father said he has had several nightmares. He also said that evidence will show that what happened to his son is not an isolated incident, but that it has "been going on for quite some time at Sahuarita High School."

Adam told the teen that under conditions of his release, he is to stay away from the victim. He is not to possess weapons or be around people with weapons. He is to attend school but not be involved in any extracurricular activities.

A trial review on the case is set for Feb. 25 at 8:30 a.m.

Among those facing charges are three students who are age 18 - Andres Vasquez of Amado, and Jorge Loya-Lopez and Marcus Stitts, both of Sahuarita. Vasquez, Loya-Lopez and Stitts were booked into the Pima County jail and have been released after posting bail.

Two youths remain in custody at the juvenile detention center, another youth was released, and the Pima County Attorney's Office is reviewing the case of two other juveniles and will decide if criminal charges will be brought against them.

Authorities say the arrests stem from an incident in which a group of students was seen forcing another student to the ground and assaulting him, Sgt. Matt McGlone, a Sahuarita Police Department spokesman, has said.

The victim, who is not on the wrestling team, was surrounded by seven to 10 students, according to interim complaints filed in court.

"The victim was forced to the ground and forcibly held by four individuals. The victim's pants and underwear were forcibly removed," the documents state.

Two of three juveniles - ages 14, 16 and 17 - performed lewd acts on the restrained student while the third teen helped hold the boy down, court documents allege. One of them also threatened a witness in the locker room, telling the student, "You're next," court records say.

The assault lasted two to five minutes, and the victim was taunted by the entire group, court documents state.

Sahuarita High Principal Kent Thompson sent a letter to families Monday saying, "We are saddened by these events and are taking a comprehensive approach to address the concerns that have emerged."

He wrote that the staff is working to promote a "safe campus culture," including "the teaching of behavioral expectations and norms in regards to interscholastic athletics programs. It is anticipated that these additional elements will be presented in cooperation with our school resource officer.

"I know that there is so much good at our school. This recent incident must not define us. Rather, it must be used to inform us and help us all be just that much better in the future," Thompson says in the letter.

Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at cduarte@azstarnet.com or 573-4104.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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