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Sheriff says video shows Hot Springs High football players engaged in hazing ‘assault’

UPDATE: Sierra County Sheriff Glenn Hamilton held a news conference Tuesday to provide an update on the criminal investigation into an alleged hazing incident by five Hot Spring High School football players.

The sheriff said investigators uncovered Snapchat video of the staged incident in which four football players pinned a younger player down in the locker room while an 18-year-old player placed his unclothed genitalia and buttocks on top of the younger player's face.

"We have to send a message that it will not be tolerated," the sheriff told reporters as he indicated that the investigation has found there were prior incidents involving some of the same "assault" participants. The alleged perpetrators in all the cases were upperclassmen, while the victims were underclassmen, he added.

Hamilton said he is currently consulting with the district attorney to determine what charges will be filed. He noted the 18-year-old player could face an adult charge of criminals sexual contact with a minor, while the four other players involved in the hazing incident could face juvenile charges of false imprisonment.

The sheriff said it appeared the coaching staff had no knowledge or involvement in the alleged assault, although the head coach has resigned and the team's last two games of the season were cancelled by school officials.

ORIGINAL REPORT: TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, New Mexico -- As the Truth or Consequences Municipal Schools district investigates allegations of hazing that could result in criminal charges, the Hot Spring High School Tigers have had the remainder of their football season canceled.

“This was not just a prank," Sierra County Sheriff Glenn Hamilton told ABC-7 on Monday. "This was not just a bunch of boys taking towels and popping each other around the locker room. This was an individual who was held down against his will.”

Hamilton said five football players pinned a sixth younger player down in the locker room on Oct. 19. He said an 18-year-old player placed his unclothed genitalia and buttocks on top of the younger player's face.

“These were not schoolyard antics," Hamilton said. "This was not something that should be dismissed as ‘boys will be boys.’"

But the father of the 18-year-old maintained to ABC-7 that his child did have clothes on at the time of the incident and was very critical of how the school district and sheriff's office are handling the investigation.

"It’s very upsetting," said Rudy Flores. "Oh, it’s very disturbing. Especially to know that his due process has been violated. It’s not right.”

No charges had been filed as of Monday, but the Sheriff's Office scheduled press conference for Tuesday morning to discuss the case. In addition, the T or C school board met in executive session on Monday evening about the incident.

In a statement provided to ABC affiliate KOAT, school Superintendent Channell Segura said:

"The T or C Schools places its students’ safety and well-being as its highest priority. The District cannot comment on confidential student or staff matters, but will respond consistent with its policies and in the best interests of the students and community."

The Sheriff's Office has indicated it is "prepared to file any appropriate charges which may be warranted."

Kate Bieri

Kate Bieri is ABC-7’s New Mexico Mobile Newsroom reporter and co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend evening newscasts.

Jim Parker

Jim Parker is the Director of Digital Content for ABC-7.

Tom Scott

Tom Scott is ABC-7’s news operations manager for our New Mexico mobile newsroom.

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