Stanford has rescinded the admission of incoming freshman football recruit Ayden Hector after investigating his involvement as a witness to an alleged sexual assault in 2018.
No charges were filed in the 2018 case, in which members of Hector’s football team at Eastside Catholic High School in Sammamish, Washington, were investigated for allegedly gang-raping a 16-year-old girl from another school.
“Under university policy, Stanford may rescind the admission of an applicant based upon a review of additional information,” wrote Stanford Athletics spokesperson Brian Risso in an email to The Daily. “The university has taken that step with regard to an incoming undergraduate for fall 2020 who was scheduled to be a football student-athlete.”
The University declined to clarify what its review of additional information entailed, and on what date Hector’s admission was rescinded. Hector, a four-star cornerback who also received offers from Alabama, Oregon and USC, committed to Stanford in October 2019.
A lawyer for Stanford requested records pertaining to the case on March 10, according to documents from the King County Superior Court reviewed by The Daily. According to The Seattle Times, Stanford withdrew its records request and revoked Hector’s scholarship offer last week.
The records are currently the subject of an ongoing lawsuit. Hector’s family, along with families of three of the other athletes involved in the investigation, sued The Seattle Times, the Palo Alto Daily Post — both of which had requested records related to the case — King County and the Clyde Hill Police Department to block release of the information. The case is ongoing.
Hector called media coverage of his involvement in the case “false speculations, hearsay, and rumors” in a tweet on Wednesday. He has since made his account private.
“Two years ago, I was one of several witnesses who cooperated with the authorities in an 8-month long investigation which resulted in no charges being filed,” Hector wrote in the same tweet. “I can also confirm that Stanford’s decision regarding my admission was not in any way based on me being considered accused or a suspect of sexual misconduct, which I never was.”
Hector did not respond to The Daily’s request for comment.
The 2018 investigation
According to documents obtained from the King County Sheriff’s Office, the alleged sexual assault involved four football players from Eastside Catholic having sex with a 16-year-old girl from a different high school in the bed of a pickup truck in April 2018.
Statements gathered by the King County Sheriff’s Office and reviewed by The Daily indicate that two additional players sitting in the cab of the truck witnessed the incident.
A report by Seattle news station KING 5 News, based on hundreds of pages of records from the case, also describes two witnesses to the incident, including an “East Catholic standout player” that KING 5 identifies as the player whose admission was rescinded from Stanford.
While the Eastside Catholic student said that the girl participated willingly and was “the initiator,” the girl told a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner nurse who examined and interviewed her in April 2018 that she was “pretty drunk… I wasn’t in the condition to give consent or anything,” according to the KING 5 report.
As of April 2021, this article was no longer on KING 5’s website. “We stand by our reporting,” wrote the KING 5 President Jim Rose in an email to The Daily. “KING 5 made the decision to remove the reports because the subjects were juveniles, and no one was arrested or charged.”
Both witnesses were offered “limited immunity in exchange for cooperating in the case,” and neither was considered a suspect, KING 5 reported.
KING 5 also reported that videos of the incident were circulated via Snapchat throughout Eastside Catholic and other local high schools. Despite filing a warrant for one of the players’ phones, investigators were never able to obtain copies of the alleged video.
Detectives wrote in a probable cause statement to obtain the warrant that there was evidence the suspects committed the crime of “dealing, distribution and possession of child pornography,” in addition to “rape in the second degree” and “unlawful imprisonment,” according to KING 5.
Attorney Maria Radwick, writing “on behalf of Ayden Hector,” told The Daily that the “investigative file, which contains hundreds of pages of statements from the complaining victim, and several eyewitnesses makes clear that Ayden was not accused of, and did not engage in, any sexual acts with the alleged victim.”
“Ayden was never accused or investigated as a suspect in this or any other matter,” Radwick wrote. “He was a child who witnessed aspects of an interaction that was thoroughly investigated and determined not to warrant any charges against those who were actually accused.”
Though charges were never filed, Clyde Hill Police Department Chief of Police Kyle Kolling told KING 5 that “we believed in our case, absolutely.”
“Just because a case didn’t get charged, doesn’t mean a crime didn’t occur,” Kolling said. “It just means other circumstances may prevent them from prosecuting the case.”
Lawsuit follows records requests
Hector’s involvement in the case was initially reported on March 11 in a since-removed article in the Palo Alto Daily Post, one day after Stanford made its records request. The Daily Post’s article covered the suit filed by Hector’s family and the families of three of the other athletes involved in the investigation.
“The singular purpose of the lawsuit referenced in the Palo Alto Daily Post story was to protect the privacy rights of a minor who was a witness in an investigation where ultimately no charges were filed,” Radwick wrote in an email to The Daily.
On April 8, the Daily Post was dismissed from the case, according to King County Superior Court records.
The Daily Post’s editor Dave Price declined to comment on the article’s removal. Its author, Sara Tabin, wrote in a statement to The Daily on Tuesday that an editor told her that the article was allowed to “expire” but can still be read in the paper’s archives for a fee. As of Thursday evening, searching “Ayden Hector” on the Palo Alto Daily Post’s archive returns no results.
On Thursday, two days after campus newsletter the Fountain Hopper reported that Stanford had rescinded the admission of a football recruit, the Palo Alto Daily Post issued a correction. The notice described two factual errors in the article, and said that the article’s headline “may have created an impression that Hector was accused of or suspected of rape, which, as the article described, is not the case.”
“The Palo Alto Daily Post story contains multiple inaccurate statements and casts Ayden in a patently false and defamatory light,” Radwick wrote.
Hector’s legal counsel obtained a temporary restraining order on Feb. 26 to prevent release of the documents, according to The Seattle Times. After the Times argued access to the records were necessary in order to scrutinize how prosecutors and police handled the investigation, a judge lifted the order. Hector’s team has appealed the case.
This article was updated on April 29, 2021 to reflect that KING 5 took down the story that involves Ayden Hector because those involved in the case were minors and not charged, but stands by their reporting.
This article was updated on July 25, 2021 to remove a description of the incident based on statements gathered by the King County Sheriff’s Office, as the description came from an individual who did not witness the incident. As such, it did not meet The Daily’s standards for publication.
Contact Erin Woo at erinkwoo ‘at’ stanford.edu, Julia Ingram at jmingram ‘at’ stanford.edu and Daniel Wu at dwu21 ‘at’ stanford.edu.