Education Lab

Clovis wrestler speaks publicly, appeals expulsion

Former Buchanan High School wrestler Preston Hill, 17, spoke publicly about his case for the first time Friday afternoon, saying the accusation that he sexually battered a teammate "was a lie."

Hill spoke on the steps outside the Fresno County Office of Education building, standing next to his attorney, Charles Magill. After the statement, Magill filed an appeal of Hill's expulsion from Buchanan by the Clovis Unified school board.

Last week, the school board voted unanimously to expel Hill on the grounds that he bullied his teammate, committed an obscene act and caused or attempted to cause physical injury to a teammate.

The alleged victim told Clovis police that Hill rammed two fingers into his anus during a practice in July. Hill told police he was using a legitimate wrestling move called a "butt-drag" when he grabbed the boy's butt cheek, not his anus.

Hill said the accusation by his teammate "ruined my senior year at Buchanan." Magill said he hoped the appeal can be processed in time to allow Hill to return to Buchanan and graduate with his class.

The sexual battery criminal charge against him was dismissed Thursday in Fresno County Superior Court after Hill and the alleged victim participated in an educational program put on by members of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department. Then both wrote essays about what they learned in the program.

Hill said he is innocent of any wrongdoing and denied his teammate's accusation.

"I do not know what motivated him to lie about me," he said. "Everything [the teammate] has said about me has been false or misleading.

"I am not a bully," Hill said. "During my four years at Buchanan, I have never been accused of bullying or any other sort of misconduct."

Hill said it was not his intent to hurt the teammate. "On the one occasion we wrestled, I did nothing more than what I have experienced as a wrestler."

In an e-mail to The Bee, the alleged victim's father said, "The statement Preston made was not surprising. There has been no accountability since Day One."

Preston's mother, Kristin Hill, said her son is not enrolled on a school campus now. "We're working on it," she said. "He should be back in school soon."