On Wednesday, prosecutors decided not to file charges against 15 students at Venice High School who had been suspected of sex crimes and arrested. Greg Risling of the District Attorney’s Office stated that they had “insufficient evidence,” according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
The LAPD had commenced an investigation two months ago. LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith asserted that the LAPD “stands by our decision to make arrests based on the information we had and circumstances at that time,” according to the Los Angeles Times. He added that the investigation was prompted by a mid-March report from school officials about a series of sexual assaults either at or near the school, including an incident in 2013 in which male students threatened two female students with slanderous accusations if they did not perform various sex acts, although the majority of incidents under investigation happened only weeks before the report was filed.
Smith said the LAPD had launched its investigation “to ensure that we protected the victims and to prevent any possible further sexual assaults from occurring.” Local public radio station KPCC reported Smith said that some incidents were forced sex acts, while others were consensual “but with victims too young to give consent,” according to KPCC. Three days after the report, eight students at the school were arrested.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Unified School District released a statement, saying:
As soon as the Los Angeles Unified School District learned of the alleged incidents, we informed the proper authorities as required by law. 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.
Robin Rudisill, a member of the Venice Neighborhood Council and a parent in the school, said, “I know my daughter and her friends are particularly angry that this damaged the reputation of Venice High School. This was in the news internationally.”