LOS ANGELES (AP) — Fourteen teenagers are under investigation for a series of sexual assaults against two students at a Los Angeles high school, police said Friday.
Investigators believe the assaults took place on and off campus at Venice High School, dating back to the end of 2013, Los Angeles police Cmdr. Andrew Smith said.
Eight of the suspects were arrested at the school Friday morning. A ninth suspect was apprehended off campus, and officers were searching for the remaining five.
"This is a painful moment for Venice High School and this district," Los Angeles Unified interim Superintendent Ramon Cortines said, adding that crisis counselors would be stationed at the school to assist students.
Smith said some of the incidents were forced sex acts, while others were consensual "but with victims too young to give consent." Most of the attacks are believed to have taken place recently, and Smith said police have physical evidence, though he declined say what. Detectives believe the students knew most of their alleged assailants.
"Incidents like this are a terrible tragedy," Smith said. If there are any additional victims, he said, "We'd ask them to come forward."
The former leader of the school's PTSA said she was unaware of any issues at the school preceding the arrests.
"I've been part of the school for some time, I haven't heard anything whispered even," said Linda Patterson Salib, who was president of Venice High School's PTSA until February. "So this comes as quite a surprise. It's not like, 'Oh we knew there was a problem.'"
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