Police say Napa football assaults may be 'ritual hazing'

NAPA, Calif. (KGO) -- Police say the alleged assaults at Napa High School may be ritual hazing and could span multiple seasons.

RELATED: Police investigate alleged assaults involving Napa football team

What started as an assault investigation into the Napa High football team may have actually uncovered several hazing incidents related to the school's rivalry game.

"If you look at an assault, if I were to batter you verses if I'm engaged in some sort of hazing ritual, I think your intent is very different so that's the angle and now that investigation is starting to go," said Captain Jennifer Gonzalez of the Napa Police department.

The initial allegations surfaced on Nov. 19.

After interviewing players, some 140 students are in the football program. It appears hazing took place during the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

The rivalry game happens every year when Napa Valley takes on Vintage High School. Police are releasing few details, citing the need to protect the identity of minors.

They say it is a small group of people involved.

The district is simultaneously investigating and sent a letter home to parents Wednesday.

"We're asking you know, our students our parents, our community to let the investigation happen and to try to keep speculation, rumors, information sharing to a minimum," said Elizabeth Emmett of the Napa Valley Unified School District.

Detectives are asking anyone with information to come forward.
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