Branded teens threatened

Police report on assault of students submitted to court

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— Teens were threatened and told to keep quiet about a March 11 incident in which juveniles were branded with a heated coat hanger, according to a Hayden police report.

The report includes witness and victim accounts of the events that occurred at an unsupervised house party that night. The victims' accounts said they were both voluntarily and forcibly branded.

A significant amount of alcohol was at the party, according to some statements, and some people may have smoked marijuana.

The police report was entered into court records Monday after Willy Najera, 18, accepted a plea agreement for his role in the incident. Najera pleaded guilty to third-degree assault and menacing. He will serve a five-day jail sentence and two years of supervised probation.

Before the report was released by the clerk's office, the names of juveniles were blacked out.

Police learned of the incident two days after it happened. Students "were talking about it at school," and Hayden High School Principal Troy Zabel asked school resource police officer Gordon Booco to investigate, according to the report.

Booco talked to one of the victims at the school that Monday.

The teen told police that just after he arrived at the party, someone put him in a "double chicken wing" and forced him to the ground. He said he was held while other teens burned him three times on his back.

"A red-hot clothes hanger was then held in front of his eyes, and someone threatened to burn an 'F' on his cheek," the report stated.

Police officers measured one of his burns, which was 4 inches long and more than 2 inches wide.

Witnesses said between 15 and 20 Hayden teens and three Steamboat Springs youths attended the party.

One teen said there were two pony kegs in the bathroom, two cases of beer and a variety of liquor at the party.

There were also cases of intimidation of the victims, who were pressured to keep quiet, according to the report.

One victim said people "stared, whispered and gave him really dirty looks all day." He also said he had been thrown into a wall and told to "quit narcing or else."

The report also states that one of the teens who was branded was told to tell his parents that he had been hit by a hot frying pan.

Another statement recalls two of the teens locking themselves in a room to avoid being burned again. One of the teens facing charges got past the locked door, wrestled one of the boys to the ground and branded him again, the report stated.

One of the alleged victims recalls being told that his life would be a "living hell for the next three months" if he told anyone.

Another teen volunteered to be branded but said he changed his mind after "he saw the red hot metal." He was held and burned, according to the report.

In addition to Najera, multiple counts of first-degree assault were brought against three juveniles. They are due to appear in court June 30.

-- To reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4210

or e-mail mstensland@steamboatpilot.com

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