SAHUARITA, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - Officers arrested nine wrestling students after a "hazing and bullying" incident at Sahuarita High School Tuesday.
Sgt. Matt McGlone with the Sahuarita Police Department tells KGUN9 that the prosecutor's office has formally charged each of the nine offenders with one count of aggravated assault and one count of kidnapping.
All students formally charged in this incident are students at Sahuarita High School.
The incident happened Tuesday night when a group of students were observed forcing another student to the ground in the locker room. Someone reported it to police Wednesday and the victim was a juvenile, McGlone said.
According to the police report, the incident involves lewd acts that include digital penetration.
The accounts are very sexual in nature but no one has been charged with sexual assault. Sgt. McGlone says at this time, they don't have probable cause to file sexual assault charges.
"The locker room apparently was full at the time so there are several people who witnessed the assault, and also were possibly involved in it," said McGlone. "We're still trying to identify all the individual students that were involved in it."
McGlone also said the kidnapping charges come from the situation because the victim was restrained. "That's what fits into state law," he said.
Attorney Mike Piccarretta is not involved in the case but knows what happens in cases like this. He tells 9OYS the initial charges could be place holders until prosecution takes a closer look. He says whether or not the incident was sexually motivated is key in whether sexual assault charges could be filed.
"When you read [the report] you need more information to determine whether the acts although they were sexual in nature, were done with a sexual motivation and that's something that the police, the prosecutors and ultimately a jury will have to struggle with," Piccarretta said.
Of the nine students charged so far, this number includes three adults and six juveniles. The adults are Andres Vasquez, Jorge Loya-Lopez and Marcus Stitts.
The Sahuarita School District Superintendent tells 9 On Your Side that the district is committed to the safety of its students.
"The proper steps will be taken to find out what happened and handle it appropriately," said Superintendent Dr. Manuel Valenzuela, adding police must first complete their investigation before the district can take any disciplinary action against the students.