UPDATE ON BREAKING NEWS: Superintendent, others charged; board member, parent comment

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By The Staff

The district attorney's office on Monday charged Las Vegas City Schools Superintendent Rick Romero, the athletic director and three former coaches in connection with attacks at a football camp last year.

Romero, Athletic Director Michael Yara, former head coach Ray Woods and former assistant coaches Adam Alvarez and Ikaika Neizman are each facing a misdemeanor charge of failure to report child abuse or neglect.

The law states that school officials have a duty to report child abuse or child neglect to law enforcement or the state Children, Youth and Families Department if they knew or had reasonable suspicion that such abuse or neglect had been inflicted on a child, according to the district attorney's office.

"The last thing I wanted to do was file more charges regarding this matter because these matters have not been just a Robertson High School thing, but instead has affected the entire community," District Attorney Richard Flores said in a statement Monday afternoon.

"The school's image has suffered, individuals and families have suffered, and I believe all parties involved would just as well see this matter resolved; however, I cannot ignore what I believe the facts to be and that is that these defendants failed to notify law enforcement when they were privy to certain facts, as required by law," he said in the statement.

Six players were charged with sexual crimes in connection with the attacks, which involved sodomizing underclassmen with broomsticks. Two of them have been found guilty so far. All of them have received long-term suspensions from school.

A parent of one of the victims said Monday afternoon that school officials should be held responsible for their actions.

"It has been our assertion from the beginning that RHS school officials in various positions had a duty to report these crimes committed against our child immediately upon their personal knowledge," the parent said in an e-mail. "Although we do not expect nor anticipate severe consequences for these officials, we certainly believe they should be held accountable for their actions, or lack thereof."

The head coach, Woods, said he didn't do anything wrong in his response to the attacks.

"I did what I had to do, and I did it honestly. I didn't fail to report anything," Woods said. "I'm not proud of what happened, but I'm proud of how I handled it."

Woods and all of his assistant coaches resigned weeks after the attacks. Neizman and Alvarez allegedly walked in a cabin when the perpetrators were sodomizing one of the victims.

Coaches later told investigators that they believed that some of the victims had volunteered for the sodomizing.

Law enforcement authorities found out about the attacks when a team chaperone, the wife of a state police officer, called him to report what she had been hearing, The officer, Capt. Toby Dolan, was waiting for the team bus when it arrived at the Robertson campus late in the afternoon. He presented officials with a copy of the state law that requires adults to immediately report child abuse.

Yara didn't return a message for comment, and numbers for two assistant coaches couldn't be found in the local phone book.

School board members — some of whom are at a conference in San Diego — said Monday afternoon that they weren't aware that the district attorney had filed charges against the superintendent and others.

Board member Patrick Romero said the board knew the DA was considering such a move. That was why the board held an hourlong closed session about Romero last week, he said.

Patrick Romero said that based on the board's information, the superintendent acted as quickly as he could in response to reports of attacks at the football camp, which took place in the Gallinas Canyon in mid-August.

"Maybe the DA has information we don't have," Romero said.

Board member Elaine Luna said she supports Romero and his work for the school district.

"His heart is with the children, and he's doing a good job. We have our work to do, and the DA has his work. We'll continue to do our work," Luna said.

Asked if the board planned to hold an emergency meeting on Romero, she said she didn't know.

Board Chairman Phillip Vigil said, "The district attorney did what he thought was right. It was his decision. We will continue to move forward and start getting ready for next year," Vigil said.

Board members Gabe Lucero and Ramon "Swoops" Montaño said they didn't know about the DA's action, declining to comment until they receive more information.

Richard Romero will be at the National School Boards Association conference in San Diego through Tuesday, his secretary said.