Federal lawsuit alleges sexual assault hazing rituals at Olympia high school

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A 19-year-old man has filed a federal lawsuit against the Olympia School District, claiming he was sexually assaulted as part of ongoing student hazing rituals.

The plaintiff says it happened to him twice while he was a student at Capital High School in Olympia.  The first time it happened, the plaintiff's mother said, was when he was at a basketball camp just before entering the ninth grade. The second time was when he was on the basketball team in 2012.

“I was just appalled and shocked into a mode of: I got to get to the bottom of this,” said Amanda, the plaintiff's mother.

Inside the lawsuit are detailed allegations of hazing on the Capital High School basketball team in Olympia.

“Hazing really minimizes what was happening,” said Darrell Cochran, the plaintiff's attorney. “These were literally sexual assaults and violent sexual assaults.”

Cochran said older team members targeted younger players.

“Our client was assaulted as an eighth-grader coming into his ninth grade year at a Seaside, Oregon, basketball camp when he was attacked coming out of a shower by an upper classmen,” said Cochran.

The alleged second time happened in 2012. The Olympia School District responded then with an investigation. Thirteen players were interviewed.

The district said Thursday:  “ … As soon as we learned about these alleged events in the summer of 2012, we investigated, made changes in staff, conducted additional training for coaches and changed our approval process for all overnight school-related events. Since 2012, we have continued to refine our safety measures."

Cochran said his investigation shows this wasn’t a one-time event and that he contends the hazing continued and reached beyond Capital High school.

“They are pinning young kids down,” said Cochran. “They are sexually assaulting their rectums, and for kids and boys, in particular for boys as young as 12 or 13 years old, it’s not only confusing, not only terrifying, but really humiliating.”

Amanda’s son is now 19, but says he’s forever scarred by what happened and doesn’t want it to happen to anyone else.

“It has been a very hard process,” said Amanda. “It’s been a very stressful process. It’s been a long process. And it really needs to come to an end.”

The next step in the case is for motions to possibly be filed and then, if it gets set for trial, it could take a year before a civil case trial begins.