Hamilton High students allegedly assault girl and circulate video of attack

Exterior of Hamilton High School
Hamilton High School in Los Angeles, where a report of a sexual assault in the boys’ bathroom has prompted a police investigation.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

A female student at Hamilton High was allegedly sexually assaulted last week in a restroom by at least one male student — a reported attack partially captured on video and circulated to others, law enforcement officials and school district sources said Tuesday.

The report is being investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department.

The investigation comes on the heels of a video becoming public of a fight outside the school last month involving three students. As fists fly, what appears to be a handgun falls to the ground from the waistband of one of the students. And in another alleged episode at the school, reported to school police, a boy fighting with a girl slammed her to the ground.


The school district did not comment on the fight outside the school or the alleged incident between the boy and the girl or what, if any actions were taken to investigate them.

Gil Gamez, president of the Los Angeles School Police Assn., said the fight outside the campus apparently did not results in arrests and that a student picked up the fallen weapon and ran away.

The bathroom assault allegation has contributed to the challenging opening of the school year at Hamilton High on the Westside — a school that takes pride in a diverse student body and renowned magnet programs in the arts and humanities.

The alleged assault occurred last Wednesday. L.A. Police Det. Brent Hopkins said a female student, described as an older teenager, told school administrators that she had been sexually assaulted in a boys restroom near the basketball gymnasium.

“There was one female student and a group of males in the bathroom. It is not clear how many were involved, but one had sexual contact with her,” Hopkins said.

At least part of the incident was recorded by another student.


“We have received a copy of that,” Hopkins said. “The school has been very helpful and is working with us.”

The alleged victim said she knows some of the boys present, according to Hopkins. Efforts are also being made to get the video off the internet and out of circulation.

Hopkins added that, as of Tuesday, no student had been detained, and that before taking action, detectives are working to determine how many boys were involved.

As with several other school-related incidents this year — including a shooting that wounded a student just outside Santee Education Complex — defenders of the school police expressed concerns over deep cuts to the school police department.

Over a series of public meetings, the Board of Education sided with activists who said that the presence of police on campus is traumatizing to students — especially Black students — and results in students being treated like suspects in what begins to feel more like a prison than school.

School police and their supporters contested that characterization.

The board approved a $25-million cut to the school police budget and adopted stronger restorative-justice practices, which rely on counseling and on having students take responsibility for their actions that affect others. The district is also hiring “climate coaches” to deal with behavioral issues without involving police.

Such methods hold the best promise for nurturing safe campus environments, the board majority said.

Gamez said the two approaches to safety can work hand in hand and, that, in the past, district mental health teams included counselors and an officer to provide security.

After the alleged Hamilton bathroom incident came to light, the district activated a “crisis team” and “students were given an opportunity to speak to counselors about their concerns,” the district said in a statement Tuesday.

It is long-standing school district policy to release little or no information about rule-breaking and crimes on campus — including incidents as varied as vaping in the bathroom, graffiti vandalism, theft and assaults. The district cites broad confidentiality imperatives, including concerns about student privacy and legal liability. On a case-by-case basis, the district will release some information, typically when a situation or case becomes public.