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The Ashland Police Department announced that a teen boy under the guardianship of the Oregon Youth Authority was arrested Tuesday on charges of attempting to sexually penetrate three Ashland High School football players four times during a summer football camp in McMinnville.
The 17-year-old who no longer lives in Ashland and was not enrolled in Ashland High School also will be charged with coercion for inducing five AHS football players to engage in conduct constituting a crime.
The youth, whose name is being withheld, was lodged at Juvenile Services in Medford on Tuesday and released Wednesday morning. He reportedly is staying at his father's home in Medford.
The youth, who has a record of assault and unlawful manufacturing and delivery of a controlled substance, had practiced four times last summer with the AHS football team and was given permission to attend the football camp with the team and coaches on the Linfield College campus June 21-24.
Three AHS football players will be charged with five counts of coercion, a Class C felony. Two of the players also will be charged with conspiracy to attempt to commit unlawful sexual penetration in the first degree. The players were cited and released.
The Ashland Police Department interviewed 48 students, parents, coaches and faculty after hearing of the events on July 9.
"As far as we can substantiate, there were four incidents of an attempted digital penetration and several students were coerced into doing something that can be described as being embarrassing and degrading under pressure from a few members of the football team," says Ashland police Detective Sgt. Tighe O'Meara.
Ashland School District Superintendent Juli Di Chiro said this morning that the district will now begin its own investigation. She added that football Coach Charlie Hall reported the incident to the Department of Human Services as mandated. A report was sent to Oregon State Police and APD began investigating the case.
David Cowan, an Ashland father who has had three boys in the football program since 2007, said Coach Hall has been transparent about the incident and added that there isn't a history of hazing or abuse on the football team.
Cowan says his son was not a witness to any of the incidents, which reportedly took place in Linfield College dorms on several occasions.
Di Chiro said the school district relied on an assessment of the youth by the staff at the Lithia Springs School in Ashland. Students at the school are typically in the custody of the Oregon Youth Authority and live in a nearby home.
"This has caused us to re-examine the past practices," Di Chiro said Thursday morning.
— Janet Eastman