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Sexual assault victims advocate Brenda Tracy thwarts school’s hall of fame plan

Sexual assault victims advocate Brenda Tracy thwarts school’s hall of fame plan
Brenda Tracy, photographed here at Sacramento State on Oct. 17, is an activist who has turned her worst memory — an alleged sexual assault by four athletes in 1998 — into a crusade against sexual violence. (Mason Trinca / For The Times)

Browsing through social media this week, Brenda Tracy came upon a post that sent her into a tailspin.

Tracy is an activist who has turned her worst memory — an alleged sexual assault by four athletes in 1998 — into a crusade against sexual violence. She has grown accustomed to sharing her painful story at colleges and universities across the nation.

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But it caught her off guard when she read that a Moreno Valley high school planned to induct one of her alleged attackers into its athletic hall of fame.

“It’s so hard to put into words how that felt,” she said. “I was hurt.”

On Friday, school officials responded to her anguished posts with a brief announcement that the induction had been rescinded.

“The district and the school did become aware that one of the candidates did not reflect the values of Valley View High School or the Moreno Valley Unified School District,” a spokesman said.

The Times has chosen not to identify the former player because he never had an opportunity to answer the allegations in a court of law.

Tracy’s story has become highly publicized in recent years because she has told so many audiences of her attack in a Corvallis, Ore., apartment in June 1998. The four suspects, two of whom played football for Oregon State, were questioned by police soon after.

The men corroborated many of her allegations but tended to minimize their personal role, more often implicating one another.

One suspect described the incident as “risky” and another, when authorities asked whether Tracy’s version was true, replied: “Kind of.”

Though police arrested the suspects on multiple charges, Tracy says prosecutors warned her the case might drag on for years and be difficult to prove. She chose not to cooperate, and charges were dropped.

“The witness has not recanted or changed the statements she originally gave to the police,” Pam Hediger, a Benton County (Ore.) prosecutor, told the Associated Press at the time. “Part of the decision and process is that she doesn’t want any more of the public exposure than she’s already had.”

Oregon State conducted a separate investigation, suspending the two Beavers players for one game at the start of the next season. Years later, the school issued a public apology, calling the sanctions “grossly inadequate.”

“While we cannot undo this nightmare,” administrators said in a statement, “we apologize to you for any failure on Oregon State University’s part to better assist you in 1998.”

This week, when a Valley View High booster club announced the hall of fame nominations in a Facebook post — since removed — Tracy took to social media to say she was “devastated.”

Though encouraged by the school district’s quick reaction, she remains disappointed that no one from the district has contacted her.

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“Even if this was a mistake, these sorts of things come up for survivors all the time and it compounds the pain,” she said. “I’ve been waiting for someone to say they’re sorry. … It doesn’t seem like rocket science.”

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