LAS VEGAS, N.M.—Coaches at Robertson High School failed to adequately supervise boys at a football camp last month or look into allegations of sexual assault by other players, allowing more boys to fall victim, according to a report from district officials. After the allegations surfaced, six football players were suspended 10 days for violating the district's anti-bullying policy. Five subsequently were suspended through the end of the year; a sixth was expelled.
Robertson's head football coach, Ray Woods, and six assistants resigned Sept. 6. Woods has said the resignations should not be viewed as an acknowledgment they did anything wrong.
Seven coaches and 53 players and managers attended the camp Aug. 11-14 east of Las Vegas. Managers and coaching staff stayed in cabins separate from the boys, traveled separately and ate during the players' breaks, when the report said most of the "alleged acts of misconduct" occurred.
State police separately issued a 102-page report last week on the hazing, which involved allegations of sodomy with a broomstick. The police report said younger players were told to "take it like a man" and that their attackers ignored their pleas to stop.
The district's investigation concluded coaches should have checked cabins more often and made sure coaches were available during breaks for proper supervision. It also said when two assistant coaches witnessed an initiation, they should have taken the players to the head coach to determine what was going on.
The 8-page report criticized coaches for calling all the players together and questioning them in front of their peers once the staff became aware of alleged incidents. That placed the victims in a position in which they were not going to confess to being assaulted, the report said.
The report said the coaching staff assumed they'd taken care of the matter based on the team's overall dismissive response, allowing another day to pass with upperclassmen harassing and intimidating victims into not coming forward.
Coaches began to suspect more had taken place after parents came forward on the camp's final day.
According to the report, dated Sept. 4 and prepared by Superintendent Rick Romero with help from an independent investigator and district officials:
On the second day of camp, a Tuesday, an underclassman was "initiated," with four juniors grabbing him in a cabin while a fifth "poked" him with a broom handle while a sixth watched. A sophomore was initiated the same way that afternoon.
Players said the underclassmen were clothed, but there could have been enough pressure from the broomstick to cause them to bleed.
On Wednesday, at least one upperclassmen threatened younger players, saying, "If you don't give up willingly, we are going to hold you down and give you twice as hard." At least four freshmen were initiated the same way during that day's break.
Two assistant coaches who noticed players sitting outside a cabin as if waiting for something went inside and saw a player getting up from the floor while others stood around, one holding a broomstick. The coaches told them to "cut it out," and the players broke up.
When the assistants told Woods, he called players together before afternoon practice to discuss hazing, and asked if anyone had been "violated."
One player raised his hand, and Woods asked if he'd been violated. Coaches testified the players were joking and laughing, and several said they didn't investigate further because the players weren't acting serious.
They didn't follow up with the boy who raised his hand or upperclassmen seen in the cabin.
At midnight, several seniors, apparently with the coaching staff's consent for "controlled hazing," awoke the freshmen, roped them loosely together and had them run around the field singing the school fight song. The freshmen said they didn't feel unsafe.
When two parents approached Woods on Thursday, he told them he was aware of the incidents and had dealt with it. Woods told investigators he didn't fully understand the seriousness, and he and the coaching staff again met with players together.
The team manager later Thursday told him it was serious and gave him names of victims. Parents also came forward, and Woods told his staff, "We need to deal with this."
They began questioning players, and at least six stepped forward when Woods told those responsible to "be a man." Woods kicked them off the team.
Woods told athletic director Mike Yara he was investigating and had removed the alleged perpetrators. Yara said he wasn't sure it was a good idea for coaches to investigate, but since they'd started, to have players write their statements.
He asked Woods to "stand by on calling law enforcement" until he'd spoken with Romero.
Romero designated Yara to investigate and told him to get Woods to stop investigating and bring everyone home. Romero also said officials needed more information before calling police.
Waiting parents became "very irritable" about what they'd heard, and one, a state police member, asked dispatch for assistance so "peace would be maintained."
Romero arrived within minutes of police and questioned the "strong show of support for a school-related investigation." An officer told him a parent reported one or more players had been assaulted.
The next morning, the school district's law firm told Romero the district also was required to investigate. That effort began Aug. 15.