Also Monday, the lead investigator in the case confirmed for the first time that the high school girl was sexually assaulted, and Santa Clara County sheriff’s officials said baseball players were among the partygoers who had been asked to give DNA samples.
The witness, De Anza softball player Megan Keefhaver, works part-time as an intern for NBC 11 (KNTV), which reported the story Monday. The interview marks the first public account of what happened two weekends ago at a baseball player’s birthday party in unincorporated San Jose. No one has been charged with a crime, but the investigation into the alleged rape has cast a pall over De Anza College and the baseball team, which returns to the field Tuesday for the first time since the incident.
Keefhaver said she stumbled on the incident in a room off the kitchen of a yellow house on South Buena Vista Avenue where about 50 people had gathered for the birthday party.
"The people in the room obviously were cheering the guys on or something like that," Keefhaver, who is dating a member of the baseball team, told NBC 11. "But I didn’t think of it as a rape situation."
Keefhaver said she didn’t know the girl was under 18. Although she did not immediately see the incident as an attack, she said, two members of the baseball team tried to stop the alleged assault but were not successful. Members of the De Anza women’s soccer team took the girl to the hospital, she said.
Keefhaver said her boyfriend is not among the players who potentially face criminal charges. She could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon by the Mercury News.
Baseball players are among the partygoers who have been asked by Santa Clara County sheriff’s investigators to provide DNA samples to determine if they were involved in the alleged assault, sheriff’s Sgt. Ed Wise said.
Some of the partygoers refused the request to allow saliva samples to be taken, Wise said. The investigation – entering its second week – may wrap up by Friday, Wise said.
Asked Monday by NBC 11 whether a crime had been committed, the captain in charge of the case said it appears so.
"Yes, some sort of sexual assault occurred," Capt. Steve Angus said.
After its past three games were canceled, the baseball team is scheduled to play Cabrillo College this afternoon – without eight players who were suspended for violating the athletics department’s code of ethics, said De Anza spokeswoman Marisa Spatafore, who declined to specify which regulations were broken.
Many of players have hired attorneys. Those still playing will undergo additional training about appropriate behavior on and off the field, Spatafore said.
Wise said the 17-year-old girl is still reeling from the incident.
"She’s doing her best to recover," Wise said. "She’s dealing with the aftermath to the best of her ability."
Deputies began investigating early March 4, after the 17-year-old high school student reported to hospital authorities she had been sexually assaulted at a party. The house where the party took place is owned by a trust in De Anza baseball player Steve Rebagliati’s family name.
Rebagliati referred all questions to Palo Alto attorney John Cahners, who did not return calls seeking comment.
Partygoers drank until at least 1a.m. at the house, Wise said.
College officials, who had an emotional meeting Thursday with about 10 parents of baseball players who weren’t suspended, called the allegations deeply disturbing.