Napa High School football hazing case has 16 alleged victims

The Napa County District Attorney’s Office confirmed Thursday that they are reviewing a case of alleged hazing at Napa High School involving football players.

The case was recently handed over to the district attorney’s office from the Napa Police Department. 

Captain Jennifer Gonzales with Napa PD said the case started as an assault investigation at Napa High last fall and grew into a case of hazing with separate incidents dating back to the 2015 – 2016 academic school year.

“Once the investigators started talking to the witnesses, the offenders, and the victims, they determined it was the span of multiple years, but it wasn’t solid throughout the year,” Gonzales said. “It was the weeks leading up to the big game.”

The “Big Game” is a rivalry football game between Napa High and Vintage High. When police received the first report of assault in November 2016, the department said at the time it was believed the incident, in which players reportedly held down other teammates and grabbed them, was a form of hazing.

Gonzales said investigators interviewed more than 150 people on the case. They have identified 15 alleged offenders: 14 teenage boys and a coach who allegedly failed to meet proper mandated reporting requirements.

“If you are a mandated reporter and you see some type of alleged or possible child abuse, or you’re aware of information, you have to report it,” she said.

Gonzales said the department also identified 16 victims.

The Napa Valley Unified School District is conducting their own reviews of student conduct through expulsion hearings, according to NVUSD Director of Communications Elizabeth Emmett.

“Our goal is to be thorough and to get it right,” she said.

Emmett said the district remains tight lipped.

“Of course it’s a very sensitive topic for our community and there is an ongoing process for our school district,” she said. “There are ongoing investigations and possible charges from the DA’s office. For that reason we aren’t making any public comment.”

A spokesman for the Napa County District Attorney’s Office said they are still receiving information and the case is under review. They are looking at each person’s allegations individually and will soon make a decision on whether or not to file charges.