Napa H.S. football player says it was 'horseplay' in testimony on alleged hazing
NAPA, Calif. (KTVU) - A Napa High School football player facing possible expulsion testified Tuesday in a hearing he hopes will keep him from being kicked out of school, permanently.
The case involves what school district officials call a hazing ritual where older football players allegedly held down and groped freshmen football players. They say a similar hazing occurred in 2015.
Napa High School sophomore Johnny Torres is among eight Napa High students facing expulsion. One other student has already been expelled.
At his expulsion hearing before a Napa Valley Unified School district panel, Torres testified he did nothing wrong.
"The most I did was horseplay and nothing serious," Torres said.
At the end of his testimony he broke into tears.
Torres is accused of taking part in what school officials have called a football hazing ritual in which some freshman football players were grabbed and touched inappropriately in the locker room by older players last October.
Torres, the jayvee quarterback, is accused of holding a student down, while another student allegedly touched him inappropriately through clothing.
Torres says he never saw any bad behavior.
A straight 'A' student, Torres has been suspended for the past nine weeks.
"The last few weeks I’ve been depressed. I miss my friends and being in the classroom and getting good grades," Torres testified.
A school district administrator testified earlier that a student identified only by a number implicated Torres.
"I believe student 34 was dragged in by several students and I believe he was dragged in by Johnny Torres, said district investigator Mike Mansuy.
Torres is one of eight Napa High students facing expulsion. One student had already been expelled.
The Napa County district attorney is considering filing criminal charges against 14 students and a coach for failing to report the incident.
Authorities say a similar incident took place the year before.
The hearing was filed with family and friends of Torres.
Outside the hearing, Torres’ grandfather became emotional.
"It’s not right. It's just heartbreaking," said James Torres who broke down as he spoke.
The Napa Valley Unified School District says it conducted its own investigation.
"It's sad for the people who have been identified as victims. It’s sad for the entire student body and for the people involved all around," said Elizabeth Emmett, spokeswoman for the school district.
The administrative panel is expected to make its recommendation to the Napa Valley Unified School District Board of Education.
Then it is up to the school board to make the final decision.