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Victims warn they may sue

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By David Giuliani

The attorneys for the six victims in the alleged sexual assaults at a football camp have put the Las Vegas City Schools district on notice that they may sue.

The attorneys from the Rothstein and Will Ferguson law firms filed a notice with the district on Nov. 7.

They said their claims are based on the physical injuries and emotional distress the six victims have suffered as a result of being assaulted in mid-August at the camp, which took place in Gallinas Canyon. State police have said the six suspects in the case sodomized the victims with broomsticks.

The attorneys contend that the coaches at times knew the attacks had taken place and were continuing.

“The Robertson High School coaches’ indifference to these attacks allowed them to continue ...,” attorney Robert Rothstein wrote in the notice, which was addressed to Superintendent Richard Romero.

In the notice, the attorneys referred to head coach Ray Woods and assistants Seth Morris, Juan Uranga, Keonie Gogue, Ikika Neizman, Ruben Esparza and Adam Alvarez. All have since resigned.

The attorneys also said Superintendent Romero and Athletic Director Michael Yara contributed to the problem.

Rothstein stated that if the district were interested in an early resolution to the claims, it should contact the law office within a month.

“If we do not hear from you, we will presume that you have no interest in discussing resolution of this matter at this time and we will pursue our other remedies available at law,” Rothstein wrote.

Ramon Vigil, the school district’s attorney, said last week he has spoken with Rothstein but not about a resolution of the matter. He said the notice has been referred to the New Mexico Public Schools Insurance Authority.

Rothstein said his office had been in contact with the authority, but he said he didn’t want to go into details.

“We are taking into account the interests of our clients, making sure they are compensated,” he said, adding that the victims may need compensation for possible therapy in the future, among other things.

It’s possible that the district may settle the claims even before the attorneys file a lawsuit.

The district’s own report on the alleged assaults contended that the coaches failed to adequately supervise the football team at the camp or look into the allegations of the sexual assaults.

Woods and his six assistants were placed on leave after the allegations surfaced. They resigned three weeks after the camp.

Yara was also placed on leave but returned to work not long after.

The district determined that the coaches should have checked the players’ cabins more often and made sure coaches were available during breaks for proper supervision.

The district’s investigation found that when two assistant coaches witnessed one of the attacks, they should have taken the players to Woods to figure out what was going on.

The districts report also criticized the coaches for calling all the players together and questioning them in front of their peers once the state became aware of the alleged assaults. That put the victims in a position in which they wouldn’t reveal what had happened, according to the report.

The coaches have told investigators that some victims volunteered for the assaults, according to the state police report.

The six suspects were kicked off the team and out of school and charged with rape, kidnapping and other counts.

The cases have been transferred to Santa Fe District Court, and prosecutors there are handling the matter.