San Jose

High School Athlete in Hot Water Over Alleged Mid-Match Attack

A Bay Area high school water polo player is accused of attacking another player during a match, but he's not only in trouble at school: He could be in trouble with the law.

Witnesses tell NBC Bay Area a player from Lafayette's Acalanes High School grabbed another player from San Jose's Bellarmine High School and pulled him down in the water while kneeing him in the face.

A friend of the victim's family says the Bellarmine boy suffered serious injuries to the face and has undergone several surgeries. He confirms the Contra Costa District Attorney's office has filed criminal assault charges against the Acalanes student.

"There is a gray area between what's part of sport and what's moral, unethical or illegal in this case," said Steve Miller, a sports sociology and psychology professor at St. Mary's College.

Miller says criminal charges stemming from actions in the sports arena are virtually unheard of. While the charges may be warranted, he thinks it's a slippery slope.

"My concern is the over-litigation of sport," Miller said. "Sport is supposed to be played between the lines, and if athletes are worried about litigation after their done playing the game, that could impede their overall performance."

A letter-writing campaign is taking place as those in the community encourage others to write to the DA over what they call "outrageous" charges.

But many parents say they're torn, putting themselves in the shoes of both the teenage victim and the accused.

Sources tell NBC Bay Area the victim recently underwent another surgery because he was having trouble breathing as a result of his injury.

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