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article imageLAPD investigating 14 Venice High students in sex assault case

By Karen Graham     Mar 14, 2015 in Crime
Los Angeles - The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating a series of sexual assaults on two girls that occurred over a period of two years, on and off the school grounds of a high school in Los Angeles. LAPD has arrested 10 of the 14 teens under investigation.
The investigation into the alleged sexual assaults began on Tuesday this past week when Venice High School administrators contacted the Police Department’s Special Assault Section about a possible sexual assault. Commander Andrew C. Smith, a spokesman for the LAPD said 10 students, ranging in age from 14 to 17, have already been arrested and charged with sexual assault and lewd acts with a minor.
Four students remain at large. "We didn’t want to leave the suspects out there to potentially victimize other girls at the school,” Commander Smith said, according to The Los Angeles Times. “The last thing we wanted was to have another victim.”
At a news conference on Friday, the LAPD said the sexual assaults are believed to have occurred on and off the campus of Venice High School, beginning in December 2013 and continuing with increasing frequency until this month. It is alleged that some of the sex acts were forced while others were not. The victims were both girls who were too young to give consent.
While the ages of the victims have not been divulged, the section of the California’s penal code under which the suspects were charged indicated that one or both of the girls were younger than 14 at the time of one or more of the sex acts. Commander Smith said authorities do have physical evidence but would not elaborate on what that may be.
Law enforcement authorities discovered at least one photograph that appeared to show two teenagers engaged in a sex act that had been circulated on social media, according to the Los Angeles Times. Authorities are reluctant to provide any other details on the case, saying that because some the alleged sex acts between the minors were consensual and some were not non-consensual, it could complicate the case.
"This is a painful moment for Venice High School and this district," Los Angeles Unified interim Superintendent Ramon Cortines told Fox News. He adding that crisis counselors would be available at the school to assist students.
Parents were left in shock after the story came out. They heard that allegations were aimed at a group of boys who worked together to pressure girls to have sex. Some of the boys were also involved in the school's football and basketball programs.
A defense attorney who specializes in sexual assault cases warned everyone to not jump to conclusions until the investigation has been completed. He pointed out that allegations of sexual assault against juveniles by other juveniles is extremely rare. “Often, first reports don’t tell the whole story,” said attorney Leonard Levine.
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