The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating claims that members of its football team sexual assaulted and hazed a rookie in 2009.
An unidentified LAPD detective filed a lawsuit against the city on October 16, claiming that when he was a rookie in February of 2009, he was subjected to hazing and sexual assault in a locker room after football practice, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The detective first reported the allegations to the L.A. Police Commission’s inspector in March of this year, which was followed by the lawsuit this month.
“All employees are expected to uphold the same standards of conduct off-duty as on-duty,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore said in a statement this week, saying the investigation was launched when the department first learned of the allegations. “Should the investigation reveal any truth to these allegations, those responsible will be held accountable.”
The LAPD’s Centurions football team is part of the department’s athletic program and typically plays against other law enforcement departments. The detective who filed the suit explained that he had joined the team in 2009 after a supervisor advised that it was a good avenue to excel on the force.
The lawsuit argues that in 2009, as the detective walked off the field for his first all-weekend practice, teammates allegedly yelled at the rookies to assemble in a locker room, the Los Angeles Times reported.
A group of 10 to 15 rookies gathered in the room, where they were called one-by-one into another area and subjected to hazing, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
The detective claimed that he faced at least 30 officers, who ordered him to strip naked and hurled insults and liquids at him. The officers reportedly demanded the detective show them his genitals, and one Centurion teammate allegedly shoved an object into the man’s backside. The object was likely a water bottle or beer bottle, the detective alleged in the suit, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
He was also allegedly ordered to climb into a trash bin filled with ice water as cops hurled insults about his body.
“You one of us now,” one intervening officer told the detective as he pulled him away from the crowd of cops.
The detective did not publicly speak out about the allegations out of fear of retribution, according to the lawsuit and his attorney, Michael Morrison. He did tell at least one close friend of the alleged incident shortly following the attack, and another friend more recently, the LA Times reported.
“He is a tough son of a gun with a strong depth of character and a decorated career despite really being put through it by this evil,” Morrison said.
Morrison said his client has carried “guilt and shame and humiliation” on a daily basis since the alleged attack and that the cop felt “like he was in a gang that he could not leave without putting himself in danger.”
The attorney added that his client recently ran into one of the alleged suspects in the assault, who told the detective he was a different person and was shocked the detective had never spoken up to “rat them out.” The interaction spurred the detective to take action, according to the LA Times citing Morrison.
The statute of limitations for criminal charges has expired, according to the outlet. The civil case alleges assault, negligence and emotional distress that has caused post-traumatic stress syndrome.
The detective left the team in 2009 after an injury prevented him from playing.
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