Updated: Wednesday, 17 Nov 2010, 10:11 PM MST
Published : Tuesday, 16 Nov 2010, 10:36 PM MST
LOS LUNAS, N.M. (KRQE) - News 13 learned four Valencia High School football players are under investigation for sexually assaulting younger teammates. Los Lunas School District officials said they're not sure if it's case of hazing or just out-of-control bullying.
It happened in the locker room at Valencia High School late October, according to the Superintendent. He said the district found out about it a week ago, when one of the victims parents reported it.
Sources told News 13 four seniors sexually humiliated younger players on the junior-varsity team by holding them down and lowering their private parts onto their faces.
The Superintendent said there were at least three victims. He also said that a group of other players witnessed all of this but did not take part in it or stop it. He said their investigation found no coaches knew about it.
The Superintendent said the district has been investigating the assault claims since it found out about them a week ago. He passed the case on to state police on Tuesday. State police are calling it a "criminal sexual contact investigation." State police said they plan to move quickly on the case.
The four seniors have been suspended and will not suit up this Saturday in the playoffs against Goddard High School.
Students told News 13 they had heard about a 'game' the football players took part in called gobbling, "It's pretty grotesque, they go up behind a kid and say gobble gobble and their hand goes where it shouldn't," said Daniel Landavazo, a Senior at Valencia High.
However, Landavazo said it was not looked at as hazing, just people playing a game. He also said that somehow the football players found out who turned them in and spray painted the word 'rat' on his locker.
A mother for another Senior football player, who was not involved in the incident said nothing inappropriate happened in the locker room, " Nothing of a sexual nature at all."
Wendy Harrington said that she knows what happened but can not say because of the pending State Police investigation.
She said she and other parents think it was nothing more than boys being boys, and that the parent who reported the abuse just has an axe to grind.
" In retaliation for his son not getting enough playing time on the varsity football team." She went on to say, "We believe he is intentionally trying to sabotage our football team during playoffs."
Valencia High plays Goddard High on Saturday in the first round of the playoffs.
The recent allegations come just a couple years after six Las Vegas Robertson High School football players pinned down younger teammates at a training camp and sodomized them with broomsticks in a notorious case of hazing. They were all kicked out of school and eventually convicted of rape-related charges. The ringleader got the stiffest sentence, two years in a juvenile lockup.