Superintendent Denies Hazing In Westlake Football Scuffle, Arrest
WESTLAKE VILLAGE (CBSLA.com) — A hotel room scuffle between local high school football teammates that resulted in the arrest of one player was prompted by an incident that took place during a team activity, the Conejo Valley Unified School District Superintendent said Monday.
According to Dr. Jeffrey Baarstad, a group of Westlake High School seniors felt “disrespected” by an unknown number of freshmen Wednesday at a team event in Hawaii.
The team, known as a Southern California football powerhouse, was in Honolulu for its season opener Friday against Waipahu High School.
More than 150 players from the school’s varsity and junior varsity teams, along with parents, made the trip, which cost $1,600 per person.
Wednesday night, a group of six to seven senior boys went to a hotel room at the Hyatt Place Waikiki shared by freshmen players to discuss the conflict, and a scuffle ensued, according to the superintendent.
“It almost immediately ended when they realized they were making a lot of noise and were going to get in trouble,” Baarstad said.
Head coach Jim Benkert and his staff learned of the altercation and suspended five senior players from Friday night’s game.
“For three of their parents who were present they were released to, then the other two were confined to their room for the rest of the trip,” Baarstad said.
One student was arrested for third degree sexual assault after a parent complained to police in Honolulu, but charges were not filed. The superintendent says there was no sexual assault and the incident was also not a case of hazing.
“We believe this is nothing more than a pushing and shoving incident at a hotel room,” he added.
The team returned home to Southern California Saturday after a 59-8 victory.
“We were disappointed to learn of the incident. We are working with the WHS administration and football coaching staff to determine just what occurred and to develop the appropriate actions in response,” Jeff Davis, director of secondary education for the CVUSD, said.
The school is now looking into further suspensions for players involved in the fight, and decisions are expected to be made this week.
Students return to Westlake High School from summer break on Wednesday.