More Mater Dei football locker room videos will be part of investigation into school’s athletic culture

Videos showing Mater Dei High School football players acting out simulated sex acts on other players, alleged hazing and fights in the school’s locker room will be part of an investigation into the culture of the Monarch football and athletic programs, the Orange County Register has learned.

Mater Dei president Father Walter Jenkins confirmed that the two videos from 2018 obtained by the Register will be part of a Mater Dei commissioned investigation by a Sacramento law firm into football and athletic programs.

Jenkins’ confirmation that the videos will be included in the scope of the probe came two days before the Diocese of Orange announced on Saturday that he was stepping down as president. The investigators are scheduled to begin interviewing Mater Dei students and staff on Thursday.

One video is a compilation of events taking place largely in the Mater Dei football locker room and begins with a Monarch player sneaking up behind a smaller player and placing a bag or pillowcase over the head of the smaller player who is then surrounded by other players. The video continues to show a fight among players while other players cheered, players simulating sex acts on each other, at least six players surrounding and simultaneously slapping a cowering player, a player being dragged across the locker-room past a condom and a semi-nude player sitting on a toilet.

A second video titled “Miss Summer Ball” shows a Mater Dei player approaching a seated player and then starting to pull down the sitting player’s shorts and underwear off and then acting out simulated sexual acts on the player while at least 20 teammates cheered, laughed and filmed the incident with their cell phones.

Both videos were posted on social media accounts of Mater Dei players. Mater Dei confirmed that the videos are from 2018.

“I understand those videos to be a couple of years old, but nonetheless appalling,” Jenkins told the Register last week. “They should certainly be part of the safety review conducted by the independent law firm.”

Mater Dei also provided the Register with a statement on the videos.

“The contents as they appear are concerning and inconsistent with Mater Dei High School’s mission and core values,” the statement said. “The school has safety and supervision procedures in place for the entire school and all campus activities including athletics. In the search for the truth, the videos will be shared with the outside firm that was brought on to conduct an independent safety assessment. Until that broad evaluation is completed, the school intends to make no further comments.”

Jenkins said since he assumed duties at Mater Dei president last July 1 “several team-specific and locker room related safety plans have been put into place that increase supervision of students.”

Jenkins on November 30 commissioned an investigation into the safety practices of its athletic programs by a law firm. Jenkins also announced that he was also creating a task force to review “how athletics is engaged” at the school.

The investigation will proceed as scheduled, a Mater Dei spokesperson said over the weekend.

“Clearly sports are an important part of any high school experience, but they are not the sole mission of Mater Dei.” Jenkins wrote in a letter to Mater Dei parents and students announcing the investigation and task force in November. “We must ensure balance.”

The Sacramento law firm hired by Mater Dei met with officials last week to map out the investigation into alleged misconduct and the culture within the school’s football and athletic programs. The discussions included agreeing on a timeline for the investigation and the different phases of the probe.

A Register report in November detailed how a current Mater Dei football player punched a teammate, 50 pounds lighter than him, three times in the face during an alleged hazing ritual called “Bodies” on Feb. 4 while some other Monarchs players shouted racial epithets at the smaller player, according to two videos of the altercation obtained by the Register.

The Santa Ana Police Department recommended the larger player be prosecuted for felony battery, according to a police report. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office does not intend to file charges in the case. Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said the altercation does not meet the legal standards for criminal “hazing” or felony assault, but he is willing to consider additional evidence.

“If I had a hundred dollars for every time these kids played Bodies or Slappies, I’d be a millionaire,” Mater Dei head coach Bruce Rollinson told the injured player’s father the day after the altercation, according to a court filing.

Mater Dei officials initially declined to cooperate with Santa Ana Police Department investigators, according to police reports. Rollinson and Kevin Kiernan, the school’s athletic director, finally agreed to be interviewed by a Santa Ana Police Department investigator with then Mater Dei assistant principal for student services Miguel Gutierrez present on April 21, more than two months after the altercation and when the Santa Ana PD first requested information from the school, according to police reports.

Rollinson during the police interview denied hazing existed in the Mater Dei program. He added that the interview was the first time he had heard of the “Bodies” game.

The Register also reported that Chase Hall, a Mater Dei basketball player, allegedly was attacked and beaten by two Mater Dei football players as he left a gathering in Irvine shortly after midnight on May 5, 2019, according to police reports.

Hall’s jaw was broken during the altercation and he will require additional surgery.

“I’ll never forget what the surgeon said,” Mary Hall, Chase’s mother told the Register while discussing the punch that broke her son’s jaw. “He said if it had been a quarter-inch higher.

“He would be dead.”

An Irvine Police Department investigator recommended that the two Mater Dei players be charged with aggravated battery and they along with a classmate, who police allege orchestrated the beating, be charged with criminal conspiracy. The two players were given probation, according to Mary Hall.

The Hall family filed suit in Orange County Superior Court this past May 5 against two Mater Dei football players and a classmate alleging assault, battery, negligence, civil conspiracy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment. The suit continues to proceed through the court.

Orange County Register reporter Dan Albano contributed to this report.

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