Stephen Ellison

Napa High Football Player Testifies at Expulsion Hearing

A North Bay high school student is trying to clear his name and save himself from expulsion in a highly publicized football hazing case.

On Tuesday, the school district held a second student discipline hearing for 16-year-old Johnny Torres, a quarterback for the Napa High School football team, who is among several players suspended after an alleged hazing on Nov. 19.

The hearing was public at the request of Torres' parents, who wanted the media and public to hear their son's side of the story.

"I need to be in school," Torres said. "I don't need to retake 10th grade and possibly throw my college education down the drain."

Torres said he wasn't involved with what the Napa Valley Unified School District described as ritual hazing, an annual right of passage on Napa High's football team, where upperclassmen allegedly physically abused at least one freshman player. Those allegations included innapropriate touching.

Torres' lawyer said the whole case is a sham, and the district violated students' rights.

"Poor investigation process, trying to gather up as much evidence as they can," attorney Mandy Leigh said.

Torres was accused of abusing the alleged victim, but in his and other witnesses' testimony, it was revealed he was involved in nothing more than rough-housing with a different student altogether.

"The most I did was horseplay and nothing serious, in my mind," he said, adding that he's innocent and simply wants a chance to prove himself. "I'm a hardworking kid. Nothing was ever given to me."

The school district told NBC Bay Area in a recent statement that it would not comment further on the incident to protect student privacy and the integrity of an ongoing investigation.

The alleged victim in the case also took the stand Tuesday, but that part of the hearing was closed to the public to protect the student's identity.

Leigh said she expected the hearing to wrap up Thursday evening, and a decision could come as soon as later this week.

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