Chandler PD releases interview reports in Hamilton High hazing case

Posted: Updated:
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

New questions are coming to light about what some students say they endured in the Hamilton High football program and what staff knew -- and when. Some of the details outlined below are graphic. 

We obtained nearly 700 pages in documents pertaining to the case from Chandler Police Thursday. Here is an excerpt from one officer's summary, alleging the former football coach knew about the alleged acts:

Steven Belles was aware of specific sex acts occurring in the Hamilton High locker room between players at least as early as the 2015-2016 football season because several players and coaches reported being present for him addressing it. He addressed the acts specifically again in the fall of 2016 and January of 2017 and never reported this to his administration, parents or the police.

That officer continues to say principal Ken James and athletic director Shawn Rustad heard about the allegations in January 2017:

Shawn Rustad and Ken James received a phone call from a parent in January of 2017 which allegedly did not disclose particular sex acts, but did provide a particular student's name. An investigation of their own was conducted during which they asked at least one player about a particular sex act, which is incongruent with their claim of a lack of knowledge into the specifics of the allegations. During the investigation they spoke with at least four students and did not notify their parents. At least one of the students disclosed being held down and his clothes removed. This information was never reported to police.

The officer also makes mention of another coach and what he knew:

Manny Palomarez was present for several of Belles conversations with the team and other players dating to May of 2016, specifically regarding digital penetration of the anus and did not report this knowledge to his administration or police.

Chandler Police now tell us Palomarez is not being recommended for charges because detectives could not corroborate the allegations that he witnessed a sexual assault.

The officer concludes that portion of the summary with the following statement: 

Had these offenses been properly reported it is possible that many of the sexual assaults would not have occurred.

In several interviews with potential victims, parents and the accused, investigators detail a meeting shortly after the 2016 football season started, when coach Steve Belles reportedly addressed the issue.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Hamilton High School Hazing Case]

Here is an excerpt of a summary of an interview with one of the accused, who is an unnamed juvenile, and a Chandler Police investigator:

Coach Belles told the players that if he heard about it again, "He would make all of us run." I asked how he had phrased the incidents and he said, "Don't do sexual things to each other."

In another interview, a student's mom claimed her son was assaulted in the locker room and an unnamed coach walked in. Here is an excerpt from that interview with an investigator:

The week of the Perry High football game he was assaulted in the locker room and a coach was present. This coach yelled at and told him to get off the ground and defend himself. At this point, he began asking his mother to leave the school, but she was reluctant to do so because he had been recruited by Coach Belles to play football and they drove him to school every day from Mesa to allow the opportunity.

Another potential victim told an investigator that a coach, whose name was redacted, walked in after an assault.

[RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Hamilton High whistleblower sits down for graphic interview]

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

Here is an excerpt from an investigator's report of that potential victim's account during a forensic interview:

Coach [redacted] walked in to see [redacted] still on the ground and told him to get up off the floor, "Like I did something wrong."

That same student said a coach, whose name was again redacted, knew about inappropriate touching.

"...Coach [redacted] knew about the inappropriate touching because it would occur during practice on the field and when he saw it, he would make the boys run. He considered it, "A boy thing," and never reported it.

Two of the accused also claimed to be victims themselves and said some victims were involved in other assaults to avoid being bullied or victimized.

Several of the potential victims said their alleged assaults were captured on Snapchat.

[READ MORE: Sixth Hamilton High football player files claim in sex hazing scandal; asks for $10 million]

The principal, athletic director and former football coach, Belles, were all reassigned. Chandler police have recommended criminal charges, but none of them have been charged.

More stories on hazing investigation:

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

Lindsey ReiserLindsey Reiser is a Scottsdale native and an award-winning multimedia journalist.

Click to learn more about Lindsey

Lindsey Reiser

Lindsey returned to the Valley in 2010 after covering border and immigration issues in El Paso, TX. While in El Paso she investigated public corruption, uncovered poor business practices, and routinely reported on the violence across the border.

Lindsey feels honored to have several awards under her belt, including a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award, Hearst Journalist Award, and several National Broadcast Education Association Awards.

Lindsey is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, and she currently serves as a mentor to journalism students. She studied for a semester in Alicante, Spain and also earned a degree in Spanish at ASU.

She is proud to serve as a member of United Blood Services’ Community Leadership Council, a volunteer advisory board for the UBS of Arizona.

Hide bio