Sixth Hamilton High football player files claim in sex hazing scandal; asks for $10 million

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The physical and sexual assaults took place between the fall of 2016 and January of 2017. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The physical and sexual assaults took place between the fall of 2016 and January of 2017. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Principal Ken James, left, and ex-football coach Steve Belles, right. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5/Facebook) Principal Ken James, left, and ex-football coach Steve Belles, right. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5/Facebook)
Police said the school administrator's inaction led to four more football players getting assaulted by teammates. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Police said the school administrator's inaction led to four more football players getting assaulted by teammates. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
CHANDLER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

In hundreds of pages of newly released legal documents, a sixth football player at Hamilton High School claims he was sexually abused by teammates in a locker room hazing ritual and is asking for $10 million from the district to settle claims that coaches and school officials failed to prevent it.

Attorney John Torgenson says his client suffered “preventable and disgusting physical and sexual abuse,” part of what he describes as the “worst hazing scandal in the history of Arizona.”

[Special Section: Hamilton High School Hazing Case]

Torgenson filed a notice of claim on behalf of his client Sep. 6, the legal equivalent of the opening kickoff to a lawsuit. The notice includes police reports, witness interviews, photocopies of cell phone records, and other documents.

[RELATED: New documents reveal possible cover-up of hazing at Hamilton High]

According to police reports, some upperclassmen players recorded the locker room sexual assault on the victim Jan. 10 and posted video to Snapchat for many in the school community to see.

Torgenson argues the district should be held financially liable for the assault. Citing police reports, he says coaches and school staff were warned of concerns about similar hazing months before the attack and failed to report them to police.

[RELATED: PD: 4 assaults in Hamilton hazing scandal occurred after officials notified]

According to a police interview with an assistant coach, then-head coach Steve Belles had a meeting with players about rumors of the hazing as early as May of 2016 and again in November of that year, but did not report concerns to police.

[TIMELINE: Hamilton High School hazing scandal]

The notice says parents approached Hamilton High School principal Ken James in November 2016 with concerns of sexual hazing in the football program. James interviewed the suspected victim but did not report the incident, according to the documents.

[RELATED: Parents want Hamilton employees put on leave

Chandler police eventually launched an investigation in February 2017 after a school resource officer reported hearing rumors of a player being sexually assaulted by teammates, according to documents attached to the notice of claim.

On March 29, 2017, police arrested six students in connection with the case. Four of them were charged, including one as an adult, 17-year-old Nathaniel William Thomas. He pleaded not guilty to charges of child molestation, kidnapping and aggravated assault. The other three are juveniles. 

[RELATED: 3 teens formally charged in Hamilton High School hazing incident (March 30)]

James, Belles, and Athletic Director Shawn Rustad were reassigned to positions off-campus effective Monday. 

[READ MORE: Hamilton administrators reassigned as hazing investigation continues]

Parents call a meeting to respond to Hamilton hazing scandal

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Derek StaahlDerek Staahl is an Emmy Award-winning reporter and fill-in anchor who loves covering stories that matter most to Arizona families.

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Derek Staahl

This once-uncompromising "California guy" got his first taste of Arizona in 2015 while covering spring training baseball for his former station. The trip spanned just three days, but Derek quickly decided Phoenix should be his next address. He joined CBS 5 and 3TV four months later, in August 2015. Before packing his bags for the Valley of the Sun, Derek spent nearly four years at XETV in San Diego, where he was promoted to Weekend Anchor and Investigative Reporter. Derek chaired the Saturday and Sunday 10 p.m. newscasts, which regularly earned the station's highest ratings for a news program each week. Derek’s investigative reporting efforts into the Mayor Bob Filner scandal in 2013 sparked a "governance crisis" for the city of San Diego and was profiled by the region’s top newspaper. Derek broke into the news business at WKOW-TV in Madison, WI. He wrote, shot, edited, and presented stories during the week, and produced newscasts on the weekends. By the end of his stint, he was promoted to part-time anchor on WKOW’s sister station, WMSN. Derek was born in Los Angeles and was named the “Undergraduate Broadcast Journalism Student of the Year” in his graduating class at USC. He also played quads in the school’s famous drumline. When not reporting the news, Derek enjoys playing drumset, sand volleyball, and baseball.

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