This year’s football season at a New Mexico high school came to an abrupt end after a player said he was assaulted by five of his teammates in a locker room, local news outlets reported.
The incident occurred before football practice on Oct. 19, authorities said.
In its aftermath, the Truth or Consequences school district announced the cancellation of the final two games of Hot Springs High School’s football season in a Facebook post, saying that the situation is “extremely disappointing.”
The football coach also resigned, and the five players are under investigation.
At a Tuesday news conference, Sierra County Sheriff Glenn Hamilton described the hazing as “despicable.”
“It’s disgusting, and we have to send a message it’s not going to be tolerated,” the sheriff said. “This was an assault, this is exactly what it was.”
Hamilton said the incident involved “four players holding the victim down,” and that “the fifth individual then put his unclothed buttocks and genitalia on the victim’s face.”
The sheriff said they have obtained a Snapchat video of the incident. He also said that there were about a dozen witnesses, according to KRQE.
The sheriff’s office has launched a criminal investigation into the incident, and Hamilton said the 18-year-old student who exposed himself could face charges of criminal sexual conduct with a minor.
The other four students accused are under 18, and could face false imprisonment charges as minors. .
The sheriff said two more students later came forward, saying that some of the same boys also assaulted them.
Hamilton said at the news conference that the head coach resigned voluntarily, adding that there’s currently no evidence that he or any other staff members were aware of the incident before it was reported
Truth or Consequences School District and the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment from McClatchy News.
But in a statement posted earlier, the school district said it“places its students’ safety and well-being as its highest priority. The District cannot comment on confidential student or staff matters, but will respond consistent with its policies and in the best interests of the students and community.”
Truth or Consequences is a small resort town known for its unique name and hot springs, about 150 miles south of Albuquerque.