As a school board member in Southern California, Democratic congressional hopeful Jay Chen voted to reject a damages claim from a high school student who was sodomized with a pole as part of a horrific hazing ritual.
Chen—who is now running for Congress in California’s 45th Congressional District—sat on the Hacienda La Puente school board during a high-profile hazing incident in 2011, which saw older members of a boys’ high school soccer team in the district sexually assault and sodomize their younger teammates with a sharp, javelin-like pole. In October 2012, one victim filed a claim for at least $25,000 against the district, alleging that Chen and other top officials failed to protect him. Chen led a motion to reject the claim in November 2012, board meeting minutes show.
The victim later detailed the brutal attack in a lawsuit against Chen’s district, which cited the initial damages claim. “Plaintiff and other varsity soccer players were victimized after being lured to the backroom … where athletic equipment was stored,” the suit stated. “Before the assault, the victim is asked whether he wants it ‘the easy way’ or ‘the hard way.’ The easy way meant that the victim would bend down and accept the sexual assault without resistance—while the hard way meant, upon resistance by the victim, he will be physically attacked by those present and forcefully have a foreign object inserted into his anus.”
Chen was explicitly mentioned in the lawsuit, which alleged that Chen knew or should have known of the “sexually abusive actions” and that the district “failed to protect” the victims. Chen’s district settled the suit just days before its scheduled trial date in March 2016. The attacks also led to felony assault convictions against three juveniles.