Updated at 2:20 p.m., March 14, 2015
Police said they do not believe any new developments will arise this weekend as they continue their search for four male suspects who were allegedly part of a group of 14 accused of sexually assaulting two underage girls at Venice High School.
No new developments were expected Saturday or Sunday because of the complexity of the case and the age of the victims as well as the suspects, said Los Angeles Police Officer Drake Madison of the Media Relations Section.
Nine others were arrested Friday morning, and a 10th turned himself in later in the day. All 10 were questioned and have now been released, according to Los Angeles police.
The 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 Department Cmdr. Andy Smith.
Their ages range 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 occurred during the past two months.
A source in the Los Angeles Unified School District told the Los Angeles Times that 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. “This morning, Los Angeles Police Department detectives, in conjunction with L.A. school police, went to Venice High School and made a series of arrests …”
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 today 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,” he said in a statement released this afternoon. “I want you to know that no sexual misconduct of any kind by students or staff will ever be tolerated in L.A. Unified.”
Smith said detectives have no reason to believe that 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.
—City News Service