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KRQE: Robertson HS Update

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Former Robertson High School football Head Coach Ray Woods.

Las Vegas City Public Schools Superintendent Rick Romero.
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Adults deny guilt in
hazing scandal
Four of five arraigned in Las Vegas

Updated: Friday, 17 Apr 2009, 12:20 AM MDT
Published : Thursday, 16 Apr 2009, 5:24 PM MDT

* Reporter: Crystal Gutierrez
* Web Producer: Bill Diven

LAS VEGAS, N.M. (KRQE) – Four of the five adults accused in the Robertson High School hazing scandal maintained their innocence Thursday and pleaded not guilty to charges they failed to report child abuse.

Las Vegas City Public Schools Superintendent Rick Romero, Athletic Director Mike Yara and former football Head Coach Ray Woods entered not guilty pleas in front of a Las Vegas judge Thursday morning.

One of Woods’ assistant coaches entered a not guilty plea over the phone while the other is out of the state and will be arraigned later.

The five are charged with failing to report child abuse after reports surfaced of older players hazing younger one at a training camp in August. The charge is a misdemeanor.

Six of the players were charged with felonies including rape over allegations the hazing included sodomy committed with a broomstick. One of the players pleaded guilty, another pleaded no-contest, and the other four are awaiting trial.

The coaches resigned shortly after the hazing allegations became public.

District Attorney Richard Flores said the former football players’ hearings are all he is going to need to get convictions against the five adults. During preliminary hearings some of the younger students testified coaches knew about the hazing and in one case had walked in on one incident and then left.

The former Robertson High football coach disagrees.

“All that I would like to tell you is that I’m innocent,” Woods said. “I responded as soon as I found out about the incident; I responded immediately.

“I’m confident that when the justice system is done I’ll be cleared.”

The attorney for Romero and Yara said they had no knowledge of what was going on because they were not at the camp. They reacted as soon as they heard, he added.

“He (Romero) found out a little bit of information that maybe some inappropriate hazing was occurring on the last day of camp,” attorney Jerry Walz said. “He took immediate action to close the camp down in order that everybody be returned immediately to Las Vegas.”

Flores said the superintendent’s actions after hearing about what happened constitute a crime.

“The statute says that they shall immediately contact law enforcement or CYFD,” Flores said referring to the state Children, Youth and Families Department.

Preconference hearings between the state and defendants are expected to take place in two to three weeks. During the conferences plea agreements will be discussed.

Those who do not reach a plea deal will go to trial.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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