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An investigation is currently underway into an incident of alleged misconduct perpetrated by members of the Vista High School football team that occurred at the end of August. Photo by Laura Place
An investigation is currently underway into an incident of alleged misconduct perpetrated by members of the Vista High School football team that occurred at the end of August. Photo by Laura Place
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Vista High cancels football game, other activities amid community outrage

VISTA — Vista High School canceled all after-school activities and planned football games on Thursday and Friday amid ongoing community outrage over recent misconduct by members of the school’s football team. 

School and district community members have demanded justice after a video was shared showing students in the locker room forcibly carrying a 14-year-old victim into a separate area where he was forced to the ground and surrounded, with students saying “rape him” in the background. 

District officials announced late last week they were investigating the incident — which occurred just before Labor Day — and the football program as a whole. Since then, officials have said they determined sexual assault did not happen, but several students have been disciplined, a freshman coach was let go, and a head coach was placed on leave.

After student protests on Wednesday and Thursday reportedly led to threatening language and actions, Superintendent Matthew Doyle announced Thursday that all after-school activities for the next two days would be canceled “out of an abundance of caution,” along with Friday’s football game against Poway. 

When asked about the game’s cancellation, Poway football coach Kyle Williams said it resulted from the incident in the locker room. 

“Vista [High School] has forfeited the games at all three levels due to the ‘hazing’ incident, which involved football players, that is currently being investigated by both the Sheriff’s Department and an outside investigator,” Williams said. 

Vista Unified said Wednesday they were also investigating reports that one of the alleged perpetrators of the incident had shared pictures of a gun and made statements about shooting people on social media. 

On Tuesday, Doyle released a statement notifying the community that investigations by the district and law enforcement had concluded that no sexual assault occurred. 

In a Friday video message, Doyle assured community members that the “physical and emotional assault” shown in the video is being taken seriously, even if sexual assault was determined not to have occurred.

“It is very clear from the disturbing video that a student was physically and emotionally assaulted. Investigations conducted by our district and a separate review by law enforcement concluded the conduct was not sexual assault,” Doyle said. “I understand how violating the conduct was and how people concluded sexual assault occurred based on the images and language used.”

Doyle also asserted that the district is continuing to investigate whether this was an isolated incident or part of a larger problem in the football program. 

He asked that, in the meantime, everyone helps to keep the campus environment calm and not jump to conclusions about who on the football team was involved. He added that while students have the right to protest, threatening language or actions are unacceptable. 

“Please have patience as we manage this complex and emotionally charged situation. And as we do our work, please help us to keep the campus calm and safe for all students and staff,” Doyle said. 

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