July 16th, 2024

Police charge Chinook High School football players with sexual assault

By Lethbridge Herald on October 11, 2023.

Staff Sgt. Pete Christos speaks to reporters Wednesday at the Lethbridge police station after four members of the Chinook High School football team were charged with sexually assaulting a teammate last week. Herald photo by Ian Martens

Alejandra Pulido-Guzman – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – apulido@lethbridgeherald.com

The Lethbridge Police Services has charged four members of the Chinook High School football team in connection with an incident where a fellow player was sexually assaulted. 

Staff Sergeant in charge of the criminal investigation section of LPS, Pete Christos spoke to reporters Wednesday afternoon and said the investigation determined that on Oct. 3 a 16-year-old male was forcibly confined and sexually assaulted in a locker room at Chinook High School after school hours. 

“The victim and subjects are all members of the football team and are known to one another. This was not a random incident,” said Christos. 

He said LPS obtained and executed a warrant on the school Oct.  4 which resulted in the seizure of a weapon.

“All four males, two which are 17 and two who are 16 are charged with sexual assault with a weapon, assault with a weapon and unlawful confinement. They have been released from custody with conditions of no contact with the victim and are prohibited from attending Chinook High School or its grounds,” said Christos. 

He said all accused are scheduled to appear in youth court on Oct. 25. Because the accused are all under the age of 18 the Youth Criminal Justice Act prohibits the release of their names. 

“There is no evidence to suggest any ongoing risk to other students in the relation of this matter and the school remains open,” said Christos. 

When asked if this was an act of hazing Christos said, “absolutely not, this was sexual assault.” 

He said it is never an easy file to investigate as it impacts both sides. 

“With the parents, on either side, it does impact their home. Their kids are now involved, they’re looking to make sure that they’re looked after, so it’s not an easy situation either way,” said Christos.

 Christos said the victim is getting counselling and services are in place to help with the situation. 

Christos said situations like this get reported, they do happen but not usually on school property. He said that once police began their investigation everyone involved has cooperated. 

“The school and the school board were all cooperative in this investigation. The victim was very courageous, came forward and reported it to the police and we took the investigation on from there,” said Christos. 

Police in a release late Wednesday afternoon addressing rumour and speculation in the community, said there is no evidence at this time to suggest any other members of the Chinook football team were involved.

The Lethbridge School Division provided media with a statement that in part reads “Our focus continues to be on supporting students and the school community. Chinook is committed to being a safe place for students and staff members. The Division, along with Chinook, recognizes the gravity of the situation and impact it has had on many in our community.” 

The statement indicated that as a school, Chinook is attending to the situation with care for the safety and well-being of all of those involved, and the greater school community. This includes providing support through Chinook’s wellness team, increased supervision throughout the school, working with the Lethbridge Police Service and consultations with the Chinook Sexual Assault Centre.

“As we work through this situation and gain more information, all football-related activities continue to be suspended. A decision on the remainder of the 2023 season will be made soon.”

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