fine lines

High School Wrestler Preston Hill Put His Fingers Up The Butt Of A Teammate. Legitimate Move Or Assault?

Sticking his fingers into the anus of a teammate during wrestling practice was not so Buchanan High School wrestler Preston Hill could get leverage during a move called the “butt drag,” but intentional retribution against the freshman for standing up to Hill’s bullying, police claim. Teenagers, rectums, and sex crime all together now? Wonderful.

Hill, 17, has been expelled from the Clovis, California, high school and now faces molestation charges stemming from the July incident — which is ridiculous, his parents Kristin and Darren say, since the “butt drag” move is a legal wrestling move (ouch!) and one that his coaches taught him back in middle school.

That’s not what Ross Rice, the father of the alleged victim, tells the Fresno Bee. “Preston took it beyond a simple wrestling move. He crossed the line.” All because Rice’s son had the balls to confront Hill for being a bully. Now Rice’s son is being subjected to additional torment at school by Preston’s friends.

If prosecutors educate themselves about wrestling moves and determine the “butt drag” (or “checking the oil”) is a standard maneuver, does that mean Hill will be cleared? Not necessarily. Just because a move is “legal” doesn’t mean it cannot qualify as sexual assault. Intent will be a critical factor, though how prosecutors could ever show Hill did anything more than attempt to gain the upper hand during a match sounds pretty impossible.

It’s difficult to identify who is the real victim here: The 14-year-old freshman, who had fingers put in his butt against his will, or Hill, who may have legitimately used a standard wrestling move during practice as he’d be taught to do, and now finds himself facing sex crime charges. (Wrestlers may agree to some pretty brutal stuff by hitting the mats, but sexual assault disguised as “just a wrestling move” is not one of them.) The outcome of this case, of course, shouldn’t deflect from the ongoing problem: the freshman felt threatened and bullied by Hill before the incident, and now fears for his safety after registering a complaint.