11th Venice High School Student Turned Himself In; Three Others Still Being Sought


UPDATE:

VENICE (CNS) - An 11th teenage boy who was allegedly part of a group of 14 accused of sexually assaulting two girls who attend Venice High School turned himself into police late this afternoon.

The boy was still being booked as of 6:30 p.m., according to Sgt. Eric Rogers of the Los Angeles Police Department's Media Relations Section. Nine of the suspects were arrested Friday morning, and a 10th turned himself in later that day. All 10 were questioned and have been released to their families, according to Los Angeles police. Three others are still being sought.

A source in the Los Angeles Unified School District said a group of male students conspired to pressure girls into having sex, threatening to ruin their reputations. The investigation began when police received information from school administrators about "a possible victim of a possible sexual assault," Smith said.

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Nine of the suspects were arrested Friday morning, and a 10th turned himself in later that day. All 10 were questioned and have been released to their families, according to Los Angeles police. Four others are still being sought.

The 14 suspects are all tied to a series of sexual assaults that were first reported Tuesday and spanned December 2013 until earlier this month, both on and off campus, said Los Angeles police Cmdr. Andy Smith.

The suspects' ages range from 14 to 17. Of the initial arrests, eight occurred on campus and one was off campus, Smith said.

Police did not release the ages of the victims, other than to say they were both in their mid-teens.

Smith said some of the sexual activity was consensual, and although the alleged offenses date back to 2013, most of the incidents were in the past two months.

Is it okay for teens to have "consensual" sex? Smith said teens under the age of 18 do not have the power to "consent" to sex even though they might argue otherwise.

A source in the Los Angeles Unified School District said a group of male students conspired to pressure girls into having sex, threatening to ruin their reputations. The investigation began when police received information from school administrators about "a possible victim of a possible sexual assault," Smith said.

"Our detectives from the LAPD's Special Assault Section responded, and they conducted an investigation," he said. "During that investigation, they were able to locate two victims -- both students at Venice High School -- (who) we believe were victims of a series of sexual assaults both on and off campus.

"They continued their investigation over the next day, and they were able to identify 14 subjects that we believe are responsible for these sexual assaults and unlawful sex acts," Smith said.

Smith said the suspects, whose names were not released because of their ages, face possible charges that include sexual assault, and committing unlawful sex acts.

Crisis counselors were sent to the Venice High campus Friday to assist students.

LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines said the LAUSD "is cooperating fully with the ongoing investigation by LAPD and school police."

"Parents of the suspects have been notified. This is a painful moment for Venice High School and this district," Cortines said Friday. "I want you to know that no sexual misconduct of any kind by students or staff will ever be tolerated in L.A. Unified."

Meanwhile, the school district is conducting disciplinary interviews with the teens that, according to LAUSD Spokeswoman Ellen Morgan, could lead to suspensions and even expulsion.

Smith said detectives have no reason to believe there are other victims, but are not ruling out the possibility. He urged anyone with information to call sex crimes detectives, (213) 473-0447; or (877) LAPD-247.

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