A former player on a top-ranked Murrieta high school football team appeared in a closed court hearing Tuesday after being charged with multiple sex crimes, authorities said.
Details of a second suspect’s hearing were not released due to the nature of the sex-related charges against him, but his mother and attorney spoke publicly about the case.
Both of the 17-year-old boys are students at Vista Murrieta High School and, until recently, were members of the football team. The six female alleged victims are students in the Murrieta Valley Unified School District, police said.
One boy faces eight counts – including two of rape by force or fear – involving six female alleged victims, according to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.
The other boy has been charged with sex-related crimes, said John Hall, spokesman for the district attorney’s office. Only the boy’s name and age and the general description of the charges against him could be publicly disclosed.
The names of the two suspects were made public due to the nature of their alleged crimes, Hall said. KTLA is not identifying them because they are minors who have not been convicted.
But the mother of the second boy — charged with less serious crimes — spoke to media outside the courthouse Tuesday, as did the boy’s attorney. They noted that the boy’s hearing was closed, but said they wanted to speak publicly about the case.
The boy’s mother said she was “shocked” by the allegations, saying her son avoids others who get into trouble with the law and has never been in legal trouble himself before.
“It’s sad,” the woman said. “But my son is a good person, so we support him.”
The boy’s attorney, Miles Clark, said the boy had been accused of consensual sex with an underage girl.
“There are no allegations against my client that he has any charges of forcible rape,” Clark said.
The first boy’s initial hearing – set for Tuesday morning at the Southwest Justice Center – was initially meant to be open to the public because of restrictions in the law related to the prosecution of juveniles, Hall said. But the judge agreed to the request to close the hearing made by a family member of one of the alleged victims, Hall said.
Outside the courthouse, a woman who said she was the mother of one of the alleged victims spoke angrily to media about the boy, saying he should be “locked up in jail” instead of going to “juvenile court.”
The charges against the first boy include: two counts of rape by force or fear in alleged crimes against two separate victims; two counts of lewd and lascivious acts upon a child under the age of 14, involving a third victim; three counts of false imprisonment involving three additional alleged victims; and one count of dissuading a witness who is one of the alleged rape victims.
That boy was ordered by a judge to remain in jail, according to Hall, who said the suspect’s next court date is Oct. 30.
The six alleged victims are underage, Murrieta police Lt. Tony Conrad said.
The alleged crimes occurred off campus between 2012 and August 2013, Hall said.
The boys were both players on Vista Murrieta’s highly competitive football team, which is ranked No. 4 in California and No. 14 nationwide, according to MaxPreps. They are both no longer on the team, a coach told the Los Angeles Times.
An investigation began with a school resource officer on Aug. 29 and was transferred to the Murrieta Police Department’s investigative unit on Sept. 3, according to a news release.
The boys were arrested Sept. 12 and booked at Southwest Juvenile Hall on suspicion of rape, police said. The case was then submitted to the district attorney’s office. The boys were formally charged Monday.
“We were very shocked and disappointed to hear of the arrests,” said Karen Perris, spokeswoman for Murrieta Valley Unified. She said the school district did not notify parents about the matter “because police have assured us that they have investigated it and that they have spoken to the alleged perpetrators.
“It isn’t our place to notify parents,” she added. “This is a police matter.”