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Nine students arrested at California high school in sexual assault investigation

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Police arrested nine teenagers from a Los Angeles high school on Friday in connection with sexual assaults and unlawful sex acts against two students, and investigators are seeking five more minors who also are suspects, a police official said.

Police said administrators at Venice High School, a campus in a relatively affluent community near the beach in the west of the city, reported a suspected sexual assault to detectives on Tuesday evening.

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Investigators discovered that two female students at the school were sexually assaulted between December 2013 and this month, both on and off campus, said Los Angeles Police Department spokesman Commander Andrew Smith.

Officers set out on Friday to arrest 14 suspects, all of whom are male between the ages of 14 and 17, believed to be responsible for sexual assaults and unlawful sex acts against the two girls, Smith said.

Police said they apprehended eight students at the school and one teenager off campus, and that they were on the hunt for another five teenage suspects.

All the suspects are either current or former students at Venice High, Smith said.

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“This is a painful moment for Venice High School, and this district,” Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Ramon Cortines said in a statement.

“I want you to know that no sexual misconduct of any kind by students or staff will ever be tolerated in L.A. Unified.”

Most of the teenagers arrested are suspected of sexual assault, and a smaller number are believed to have committed an unlawful sex act, Smith said.

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The names of the teenagers taken into custody were not released because they are minors, and unless they had a prior criminal record they were expected to be released to their parents to await their court dates, he said.

The arrests follow a number of high-profile sexual assault cases at U.S. colleges and high schools.

In 2013, two high school football players in Steubenville, Ohio, were found guilty as juveniles of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl, in a case that gained national attention after a photo and video appeared online to document the assault.

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(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Sandra Maler and Eric Beech)

Watch a report on the arrests, as aired on KTLA-TV on Friday, below.

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