Mater Dei Faces New Locker Room Assault Allegation

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Another alleged locker room assault at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., has come to light.

According to a Santa Ana Police Department document obtained by the Los Angeles Times through a public records request, several football players forced a teammate to the locker room floor and exposed their genitals. Then they held him down as one player “began humping” him from behind, through his pants. 

The incident happened in late August, according to the police report, two weeks after the student started school at Mater Dei, home to one of the country’s most celebrated high school football programs. He wasn’t physically hurt, but the episode left him suffering from anxiety, police said in the document. He left Mater Dei shortly afterward, the Times reported.

The document is a single-page, eight-sentence description of the alleged assault that the Police Department entered into its computer system Sept. 16. According to the Times, the document does not address whether the Aug. 31 claim of sexual assault was investigated, or whether students, school officials or family members contacted police.

The document said the incident was reported to the student’s coach, who informed “school officials,” but did not specify when. The police received secondhand information about the incident from social services, the document said.

Last November, the family of another former Mater Dei football player sued the school and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange in November, alleging a culture of hazing and secrecy and a win-at-any-cost attitude.

Related: Lawsuit: HS Hazing Ritual Left Player with Traumatic Brain Injury

The family alleged in their lawsuit that their son, who was new to the football team, was forced to fight a much larger player in a locker room hazing ritual in February 2021. The school tried to cover up the student’s injuries, which included a concussion and a broken nose, by not calling paramedics and not contacting his family for 90 minutes, the lawsuit said. 

The boy’s injuries allegedly stemmed from a ritual called “Bodies,” in which two players punch each other between the shoulders and the waist until one gives up. The larger of the two teens punched the other boy three times in the head, two videos reviewed by the Times showed.

Other videos of additional locker room incidents emerged after the lawsuit was filed, according to the Times.

At the end of the fall semester, Mater Dei hired a Sacramento law firm to conduct an investigation of safety practices in the school’s athletic programs. The review was ordered by Father Walter E. Jenkins, then the president of the school, who left Mater Dei over winter break after six months on the job.

Amanda Waters, athletic director at the time, left the school six weeks after the “bodies” claims came to light, citing them as a reason for her departure.

According to Times reporters Connor Sheets, Hannah Fry and Laura Nelson, the allegation of sexual assault detailed in the newly obtained police report, raises questions about Mater Dei’s stated commitment to student safety and transparency in its storied athletics program. It also highlights concerns about the Diocese of Orange’s standards of behavior and sportsmanship for its athletes, many of whom are closely watched by college scouts.



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