Some parents expressed dissatisfaction with what they heard from Los Angeles Unified School District officials at a community meeting at Venice High School to discuss the recent arrest of one dozen students suspected of taking part in sexual assaults of two girls.
“They talked about a safety plan, but they didn’t define that safety plan” Tammy McClanahan, who has a daughter attending the school, told NBC4. “I want it defined.”
Grant Francis, a Venice High School alumnus, told NBC4 he “expected a little more facts and information.”
The meeting was to cover such topics as crisis counseling, safety, the status of the investigation and student discipline.
School Police Chief Steve Zipperman was among those in attendance, along with interim Principal Fonna Bishop and area Instructional Superintendent Cheryl Hildreth.
Police suspect 14 students were members of a ring that sexually assaulted a pair of girls both on and off campus, mostly in recent months but with some attacks dating back to December 2013.
Nine of the suspects were arrested Friday morning, a 10th turned himself in later that day, an 11th surrendered Monday and another turned himself in Tuesday. Two students remain at large. The suspects range in age from 14 to 17. The ages of the victims were not released, but police say they are in their mid- teens.
An LAUSD source 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,” according to Los Angeles Police Department Cmdr. Andy Smith said.
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. “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 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