Hercules Police Investigating Possible Hate Crime on Transgender Student

A transgender student at Hercules High School was sexually assaulted in a school bathroom Monday morning in what police are investigating as a hate crime, officials said.

The assault was reported at 11:06 a.m. in a boy's bathroom in Building 300 at the school, located at 1900 Refugio Valley Road, Hercules Police Detective Connie Van Putten said.

The victim, a 15-year-old student who police said identifies as a transgender male, was leaving the bathroom when three other students confronted him.

The students physically and sexually assaulted the victim, Van Putten said. He was taken to a hospital and his parents were notified of the attack.

Police have not identified any suspects in the attack, which is being investigated as a sexual assault and hate crime, Van Putten said.

"We do know that the attackers made disparaging remarks against the victim, which is adding to the sexual assault investigation," Van Putten said.

Student Jeremy Domingo said he doesn't understand the reasoning behind the attack.

"I don't know why people do this," he said. "They need to let the kid live his life. He's the same as everybody else. He's a human." 

Monday's attack also sparked outrage with West Contra Costa County School Board President Charles Ramsey.

"We're horrified by what happened," Ramsey said. "It's terrible that any student would have to be subjected to that kind of criminal conduct."

Ramsey has called for a special board meeting to address the incident -- a date has yet to be scheduled. The school board president also would like to install security cameras on campus.

"But on top of that, we have to say there's consequences for this kind of behavior," Ramsey said. "You will be expelled. You will be punished. And we will ask that you be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. You can't assault students on campus no matter who they are." 

The school was the scene of a fight involving another transgender student late last year.

Jewlyes Gutierrez, a 16-year-old sophomore who identifies as a transgender female, was involved in a fight with three other 16-year-old students on Nov. 13.

Gutierrez was charged with misdemeanor battery in connection with the fight, but her family distributed a petition saying that Gutierrez was responding to constant bullying and harassment.

A video of the incident was widely viewed online and fueled a debate late last year about the school district's policies about bullying.

Gutierrez said she is hopeful the charge will be dismissed after she completes a conflict resolution program.

Gutierrez's case attracted the attention of advocacy groups, who questioned why she was the only student to face criminal penalties from the November brawl.

Bay City News Service and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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