17-Year-Old Plaintiff In Oak Hills High Football Team Hazing Lawsuit Identified

The plaintiff in the highly-charged Oak Hills High School Football Team Hazing Lawsuit, whose identity has been kept under wraps for more than two years, has been publicly identified.
With the case set to go to trial on November 14, Josh Villegas, the now 17-year-old high school student in the eye of the storm, is in the open as the player who pulled back the curtain on what is alleged to be systematic bullying and sadistic rituals that were perpetrated by players and ignored by coaches and school district administrators in the Hesperia Unified School District.
Along the way, Villegas’s suit – listed as CIVDS1410904 John Vz Doe V Hesperia USD – has called into question not just the milieu and atmosphere of high school athletics, but potentially sullied the reputation of one of the community’s political luminaries – current mayor and former councilman Bill Holland.
The narrative behind Villegas’ suit is a cringeworthy one, indeed one so full of vile and repugnant detail that there has developed a divide between those empathetic toward him for what he says he experienced and those with an animus toward him for raising the issues. The suit, filed in 2014, alleged that as a member of the Oak Hills High School football team in 2013, Villegas was physically and sexually abused by other players on the team.
“Coaches encouraged sadomasochistic sexual hazing that plaintiff was forced to endure,” according to the suit, which said Villegas was sexually assaulted in the showers. The suit alleges the football coaches knew what was occurring and did nothing to prevent it. According to the suit, Oak Hills High School “has a long-lasting tradition of ritual hazing and sadomasochistic sexual beatings undertaken by students, against students, which is encouraged, tolerated and sanctioned by teachers, faculty [and] coaches.”
In court documents, Villegas’ attorney, Skye L. Daley charged that the coaches not only allowed the abuse to occur, but even encouraged it.
In the immediate aftermath of the filing of the suit, high school and district officials reacted, perhaps understandably, somewhat inconsistently, offering a mélange of comment, ranging from outright denial, a statement that the accusations were being taken seriously, skepticism about the accusations and further denial. At one point, the district fell silent and nonofficial spokespeople were brought forward, such as parents of other team members, to attempt to diffuse the issue. The parents cast doubt, or attempted to, on the allegations. The district in a last stab at putting the crisis to bed in 2014, released a statement which conceded, ”There was one incident reported during the time frame referenced in the lawsuit and it was thoroughly investigated, but there was no evidence to support the allegations. The statement also said, “Allegations are often made, in lawsuits and otherwise, that don’t hold up when the relevant facts are brought to light.”
Two years later, after the district has fought tooth-and-nail to keep the district superintendent from being deposed, that is, compelled to testify under oath, and after the district had filed for protective orders to prevent the disclosure of a number of facts and made what are called motions in limine to prevent a number of issues relating to the football team and Oak Hills High School which the district’s attorney’s now call “prejudicial to the district” from being mentioned in front of a jury, the matter is heading toward a trial. Indeed, Daley is armed with statement or sworn affidavits from five former Oak Hills High football players who maintain that hazing of the nature Villegas says he sustained, much of it with a sexual element, had gone on for years.
The district’s effort to stem the controversy in 2014 by insisting that its “ investigation” turned up nothing to substantiate Villegas’ claims have returned to haunt the high school, the district and the entire community of Oak Hills and Hesperia. Oak Hills is the unincorporated county area south of Hesperia within Hesperia’s sphere of influence. The Hesperia Unified School District employed Bill Holland, who is now Hesperia’s mayor and at that time was a councilman, as a Hesperia School District police officer for years after he left the employ of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s department, including in 2013 and 2014. Holland led the “investigation” the district cited in its 2014 statement that there “was no evidence to support the allegations.”
That Holland was the lead investigator was revealed during the discovery process for the lawsuit. Holland, prior to the 2013 season, had been a football coach with the district. The investigation, which the district called “comprehensive” and “thorough” was completed over a period of two working days and was shut down after the investigative team found what it concluded were “inconsistencies” in Venegas’ account.
If the district had once hoped that it could get the suit dismissed without getting into any of the sordid details, that wishful desire was dashed when Judge Gilbert Ochoa on September 20 set the matter for trial on November 14.
According to court filings, Villegas was set upon numerous times by his teammates in the locker room and in the shower. In one particularly graphically described incident, Villegas was at a urinal in the locker room when he was forced up against a wall by two football players while a third pulled his gym shorts down to his ankles.
At least two of his assailants then inserted their fingers into Villegas’ rectum, according to Villegas’ 2015 deposition.
The district is still maintaining Villegas made it all up. The lawsuit, the district insists, is a “bad faith action which is frivolously filed and known to be such” by both Villegas and Daley.

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