Student Wrestler says he was subjected to hate crime behavior. Coach says it may have been a misunderstanding.
Santa Monica High School was buzzing Wednesday with conflicting information about an alleged hate crime that may have gone unreported for several weeks.
An African-American wrestler at the school claimed he was racially bullied by other members of the wrestling team. He said he was shown a noose, tired to a locker and exposed to a racial epithet.
Debra Shepherd, an African-American parent, had a strong reaction.
"If it had been two black kids that held a Caucasian kid against his will, they would have left that campus in a squad car," said Shepherd.
Even more disturbing to some parents was the fact that the victim's parents weren't notified about the May 3 incident until three weeks later. Police weren't informed until June 21.
Santa Monica High School apologized for the delay, and issued a statement asserting its position on discrimination.
"We do not condone, in any way, behavior that targets or disrespects any student or group of students by using their race, ethnicity or background..." the statement said in part.
Two students involved in the incident were suspended for two days. The entire wrestling team was given sensitivity training.
Police are investigating and the students could face assault and hate-crime charges, said Sgt. Richard Lewis.
And late Wednesday a wrestling coach issued a statement saying that the incident has been misconstrued, and actually involved two separate incidents. Police say they will look into that statement, as well.