Mater Dei hazing lawsuit that followed locker-room beating is dismissed

A row of football jersey alongside a football field.
The Mater Dei Monarchs warm up before a 2021 game against the Duncanville Panthers in Duncanville, Texas.
(Jerome Miron / For The Times)

The family of a former Mater Dei High School football player recently dismissed their lawsuit that had alleged a culture of hazing in the school’s renowned football program led to their son’s beating and brain injury. The move signals a likely out-of-court settlement in the case that sent shock waves through the Santa Ana Catholic school community.

The attorneys for the former football player, identified only as John Doe, requested to dismiss the case with prejudice, meaning the plaintiffs are unable to re-file the lawsuit. The suit was dismissed Jan. 11, according to Orange County Superior Court records.

Attorneys for the former Mater Dei football player did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did those representing Mater Dei or the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange.


Exclusive: The parents of a former Mater Dei football player injured during initiation explain why they filed a hazing lawsuit against the school.

Dec. 5, 2021

The lawsuit, initially filed in November 2021, detailed a brutal locker room ritual that was known as “Bodies,” during which two players fought “until [one] can’t take it anymore and gives up,” the lawsuit alleged. The complaint said the then-player was hit during the hazing practice repeatedly in the head and was later diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and nasal fractures.

The lawsuit alleged that Mater Dei staff took extensive steps to minimize fallout from the fight, though the backlash continued.

Former school President Father Walter E. Jenkins stepped down in the wake of the scandal, though not before initiating a sports school safety assessment, which he said would be made public. The review was completed, but the results were never disclosed.

About a year later, longtime football head coach Bruce Rollinson announced his retirement.

Though this hazing case has been resolved, records show Mater Dei is facing another lawsuit — this one from a local referee, who alleges negligence, assault and battery by an assistant basketball coach affiliated with the high school.

The complaint alleges the coach assaulted the referee during a February 2021 game, “striking him and causing him to fall backwards and [hit] his head on the metal bleachers,” resulting in a black eye, a traumatic brain injury, and five staples to the back of his head, the lawsuit says. This lawsuit was filed in November.