Sex-gang controversy divides quiet L.A. suburb


LOS ANGELES -- One boy was arraigned yesterday a residents of the suburb of Lakewood took sides in a scandal over a competition among high school boys to score points for sexual conquests.

But despite the highly publicized arrests on Friday, the eight other boys were freed Monday and yesterday. Of those, four remained under investigation, the authorities said yesterday.

"Emotions are running amok," said Lt. Joseph R. Surgent of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department. "It's up to us to get through the emotions and get to the facts."

In the small-town atmosphere that surrounds the 4,000-student school, parents were divided in their support for the boys or the girls they allegedly assaulted.

At the time of the arrests, Lieutenant Surgent described a long-running competition among the boys, mostly athletes, to tally their conquests, many of which he said were made through threats and intimidation.

Even as supporters of the accused students defended them as "red-blooded American boys," Lieutenant Surgent said more girls were coming forward yesterday with accusations that they had been molested or raped by members of the mostly white group known as the Spur Posse, which takes its name from the San Antonio Spurs professional basketball team.

As most of the boys whose arrests he supervised returned to their parents in the middle-class suburb just north of Long Beach, Lieutenant Surgent said his investigation was continuing.

A spokeswoman for Los Angeles District Attorney Suzanne Childs said the arraignment yesterday in juvenile court involved a minor on a charge of lewd conduct with a minor under the age of 14. An 11-year-old girl accused him of molesting her when she was 10.

The boy, whose name and age were not released, pleaded not guilty and remained in custody. His trial was set for April 8.

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