New lawsuit claims hazing in N.M. boys soccer program has ‘gone on for years’

By: Cam Smith, USA TODAY High School Sports | September 18, 2018

A prominent New Mexico boys soccer program finds itself in the midst of a hazing scandal which one report now claims has been occurring for years.

As reported by Albuquerque CBS affiliate KQRE and the Albuquerque Journal, Hobbs High School and the district superintendent are among the defendants for a new lawsuit connected to the Hobbs boys soccer team. The suit, filed on behalf of a former player and his mother, claims Hobbs High School officials have been aware about allegations of inappropriate touching between athletes in the program since at least 2015.

According to the Journal, the lawsuit is filed on behalf of a player who claims he was hazed in 2016, and whose family discovered video of the hazing perpetrated against him on his phone. That incident allegedly took place in an El Paso, Texas hotel room and involved a number of upper- and underclassmen in the program.

Now that allegations have emerged again — following an August report of on-bus hazing on a trip to Santa Teresa — a lawyer named Joseph Zebas is attempting to ensure that the allegations aren’t swept under the rug again after, “no discipline was taken whatsoever,” following a 2015 incident.

“Certain boys being held down, inappropriately touched by team members that are older,” Zebas told KQRE. … “Our position is, had the school done their job in 2015 of the 2015 soccer season, more likely than not, the incidents that are happening now or recently wouldn’t have happened.”

While the full details of the hazing aren’t explicitly laid out in filing documents, Zebas’ suit references both “tea-bagging” and “dog piles,” and the lawyer himself also spoke about rape to the news network.

As there was no discipline related to the purported hazing events in 2015, its possible that the lone game forfeited following the most recent incident could be the only firm punishment handed down to the soccer program in connection with the hazing. While it remains to be seen how pervasive the hazing culture surrounding the program was, it’s clear that the allegations made in the lawsuit point to something more systemic than a one-time indiscretion made after an August road game.

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