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Did Arizona High School Coach Ignore Football Players Sexually Abusing Teammates?

The Hamilton High School football team in Chandler, Arizona, has won five state championships since Coach Steve Belles took over the program in 2006. And while he was well-aware of the team’s performance on the field, Belles denies knowing that some of his varsity players were sexually harassing and sexually assaulting members of the freshman team.

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Now, Belles, Principal Ken James, and Athletic Director Shawn Rustad have all been reassigned within the Chandler Unified School District. But police have recommended that they be charged with covering up the crimes and willful ignorance. Reportedly, the sexual abuse started in September 2015. Allegations include upperclassmen hazing freshmen by slapping them with their penises, urinating on them in the shower, and daring them to eat feces. The story went public in February 2017, but Chandler police just released a 700-page report detailing the full investigation.

Police have recommended charges against three administrators for the alleged cover-up and willful ignorance.

Nathaniel William Thomas, 17, is accused of sexual assault and multiple counts of molestation, kidnapping and aggravated assault involving alleged attacks on three people his junior. He is being charged as an adult and has pleaded not guilty. Thomas has been deemed a troublemaker and was recently banned from a local Chick-fil-A for alleged verbal attacks and intimidation.

Two other players, both 16, were charged as juveniles with kidnapping, aggravated assault and assault. The terrorized victims were under the age of 15. Some of the attacks, which were sexual in nature, were broadcast on social media sites.

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