Column: Parents of ex-Mater Dei football player share new details of attack, school response

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he didn’t want his mater dia Teammates to soak his locker in urine.

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The 170-pound football player told his parents that fear of retaliation prompted him to agree to fight a more experienced 235-pound teammate in the middle of the Mater dei locker room.

The younger player, who had yet to play a game for emperors, was publicly challenged by a third player to compete in a brutal initiation game known as “bodies”, an organized fight between two players. which is considered limited to punches. The younger player knew what could happen if he refused to participate.


He had seen bullying, molesting, abusing and worst of all, he had seen the lockers of the outcasts drenched in urine. He didn’t want to take the risk of suffering that abuse. It was his stamp of approval.


“He felt that if he didn’t do it, he wouldn’t fit in, and he wanted to fit in, he wanted to feel like he was hers,” his father said. “He didn’t really have a choice. … There are kids who are habitual cases where they are teased, bullied. They do stuff for them… pouring urine in a child’s locker… more he didn’t want to be He Child.”

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What happened next led to a lawsuit that shed light on the covered practices of one of the most famous high school football programs in America.

In a February brawl, which was captured in two 55-second videos, the younger player, known at trial as Player One, was severely beaten to the head by three powerful blows. The last was a sucker punch. Player One suffered a traumatic brain injury, a broken nose that later required surgery and deep wounds around both eyes.

The family filed suit against Mater Dei and the Diocese of Orange, accusing the Mater Dei administration of covering up the incident. When the lawsuit was made public last week, the Santa Ana school of 2,149 students found itself in the midst of a public outcry that exposed the school president’s bold promise of an independent investigation, with the Orange County district attorney telling the press about his failure. gave a public explanation. allegation and a statement from the California Interscholastic Federation that is waiving oversight.

“The CIF condemns the haze and says such conduct has no place in an educational setting,” said a statement from the federation that oversees high school athletics. “… falls within the responsibility of the school’s administration to investigate and address student misconduct on campus involving violations of the school’s code of conduct and/or state law.”

Everyone seemed to have joined in except those most closely connected.

Then this week, in an interview with The, the parents of Player One spoke out.

“Desire has nothing to do with being blurred, you can dress up and be blurry. I promised a fraternity and the things I allowed them to do were still blurry. I Did it intentionally because I wanted to relate.”

Player One’s father, who sued Mater Dei High School

They didn’t want their son to endure the added stress of an interview, and they insisted on anonymity to continue protecting their son’s identity, but in a 90-minute conversation he shared his story about an experience. Shared feelings that they say changed their lives forever.

Ten months after the fight, after leaving his longtime Mater Dei with his son and breaking virtually all of their once strong Mater Dei connections – “We didn’t just drink Kool-Aid, we helped create Kool-Aid, Said father – he is left with a deep sadness that the words may not be fully depicted in the legal document.

“You drop your kids off at school and say goodbye to them with a kiss … and you feel like you’re putting them somewhere where they can be safe. … I thought Mater Dei got the most protection, I thought my child would be safe there,” said his mother. “Then turning a blind eye to them and becoming so unusable. … It’s like, you failed my child.”

When he saw his son’s battered face after the fight, his father talked about crying. While applying ice on the injured head of the son, his mother wept and talked about waking up the whole night.

His father spoke angrily about being overlooked or dismissed by Mater Dei officials while seeking transparency and accountability. His mother spoke mournfully about feeling abandoned by a self-proclaimed “community built on Catholic fellowship.”

“It wasn’t just fighting, it wasn’t just that they didn’t call the paramedics, it wasn’t just that they didn’t call us, it wasn’t just that people didn’t… Stories changed and did all these other manipulations.” things and his CIF transfer,” said his father. “It is the totality of it all… I told him, you are a shame to the Catholic organization.”

The Times sent a Mater Dei spokeswoman detailed questions about the parent’s statements and she declined interview requests, instead providing the following statement:

“We are aware of the allegations in the current lawsuit. An internal investigation is being conducted by an outside law firm to look into school safety practices, particularly in our athletic program. With regard to the pending litigation, we believe the facts will emerge.” and will speak for itself. Mater Dei does not believe that the claims made in the lawsuit have merit.”

It’s also a human affair for Player One’s parents. Hearing their pain it becomes clear that what is now a full-blown school crisis could have been mitigated if the school had responded differently to the family’s concerns.

“My son’s face looked like Larry Holmes after 15 rounds. My kid was beaten to hell.”

Player One’s father, who filed a hedging lawsuit against Mater Dei High School

The family said in the lawsuit that it was only after the father called the school that he received sympathy calls and someone sought to show some mercy for his son. Principal Francis Clare never called, the family said.

His grueling journey began with the brutality of the battle. The parents said they were not informed that their son was injured until about 90 minutes after Thursday afternoon’s brawl. He was asked to come to school and pick up Player One because he hit his head on a sink. This is what Player One initially told officials after teammates warned not to splurge.

As soon as his father saw his son sitting at the training table under an outdoor tent, he knew the story of the drowning was a lie.

“My son’s face looked like Larry Holmes after 15 rounds,” he said. “My child was beaten in hell.”

The father said he immediately confronted trainer Kevin Anderson and asked why paramedics had not been called for such serious injuries. He said Anderson would not respond. The family claimed in a lawsuit “on information and belief” that five days later, Anderson called to say that she had been ordered not to call paramedics by an unidentified officer.

The Times sent questions to a Mater Dei spokesperson for Anderson, and the school declined to comment beyond a general statement.

His father said, “He has no right to gamble with my son’s life.”

His father angrily drove his son to their car and drove him to an urgent care facility, where a doctor initially diagnosed him with a head injury and a fracture in his nose. By then, his son had admitted that he got hurt while playing “Bodies”. It was his attempt to gain acceptance into a team he joined last spring in a game he had only played a year in elementary school.

“He was never in a fight in his life,” said his father. “I don’t think he was ever in a vigorous debate.”

Player Two was not made available for comment, but Player Two’s father responded to the allegations through his lawyer, David Nisson.

“Fathers think it’s unfortunate that it happened, they wish it never happened, it’s always unfortunate when someone gets hurt,” Nisson said. “But he said there is no evidence of staining in this case or in the program, this is the first time he’s sipped urine or heard anyone hear of staining.”

The day after the fight, Player One’s father sent Bruce Rollinson two emails, and he said that the legendary coach had finally called him and acknowledged the existence of “bodies”, adding that he had “a bond with disciplining the older child”. in” because his father was involved in the coaching staff, a conversation described in the family’s lawsuit against Mater Dei.

“Two things bothered us about that call,” said the father. “The coach accepted the game. And the coach was in bondage because of the father of the second child?”

(Jerome Miron / for The Times)

Rollinson has declined multiple requests from the Times for comment, including personal inquiries after Mater Dei won the Division 1 championship game on November 26.

In response to the allegation that Rollinson was “in a bind” while disciplining Player Two because of his father’s affiliation with the program, the father stated that Player Two had been suspended for at least two weeks, so no There was no conflict,” his lawyer told multiple times.

As for the allegations of a cover-up, “the father said he did a very thorough investigation, there is no evidence of a cover-up,” Nissen said.

Player One’s parents said that Tim O’Hara, the mater dei dean of students and an assistant football coach, told them that administrators decided that Player One would be suspended to fight one day, according to the lawsuit. When the father protested vehemently, O’Hara later recalled, saying that the sentence had been changed to “the assistant principal’s contract”, with the student being placed on…

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