Prosecutors say there was insufficient evidence to proceed with charges

By Gary Walker

Los Angeles County prosecutors will not pursue criminal charges against the Venice High School boys who had been suspected of committing a series of sex crimes against two female students over a period of 13 months.

“There was insufficient evidence to proceed with charges against the 15 teens,” said Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Greg Risling. “We also declined earlier to press charges against one of the other teens.”

Los Angeles and LAUSD police officers removed the boys, many of them members of the school’s football or basketball teams, from classrooms on March 13 after school staff reported concerns voiced by other students.

LAUSD Police Chief Steven Zipperman clarified during a March 18 community meeting that the students were cited and released to their parents and not formally arrested.

LAUSD officials did not respond directly when asked whether the students would be returning to Venice High. Seniors are scheduled to take their finals exams next week and graduation is June 4.

“As soon as the Los Angeles Unified School District learned of the alleged incidents, we informed the proper authorities as required by law,” reads a statement by LAUSD spokesman Daryl Strickland. “The district completed its required administrative review and evaluation of school safety and campus climate and facilitated the required education code due process of involved students. Since the review is confidential, we can’t comment on specific actions. This process is unaffected by the district attorney’s decision not to press charges.”