Wrestler to make plea to Clovis school board

A suspended Buchanan High senior will ask the Clovis Unified school board today to reinstate him into school, despite a school panel's recommendation that said he should be expelled for sexual battery of a teammate during wrestling practice.

The panel ruled last week that 17-year-old Preston Hill took a wrestling move too far. Hill was charged with sexual battery after Clovis police reported that he allegedly rammed two fingers into a teammate's anus. Hill's attorney contends he merely used a legitimate "butt-drag" maneuver on the teammate at Buchanan High.

The school panel also found other grounds to expel Hill, saying he committed an obscene act and had bullied his freshman teammate. The school board can approve the panel's recommendation, modify it or reject it.

Hill's attorney, Charles Magill, said Tuesday that he thinks the board already has its mind made up and will expel Hill.

If the board upholds the expulsion, Magill said he plans to file an appeal with the Fresno County Office of Education.

The board meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Clovis Unified School District headquarters near Sunnyside and Herndon avenues in Clovis.

Magill has asked that Hill's matter be discussed in open session. Afterward, the board will deliberate privately, but will disclose their decision in open session.

During last week's hearing, his coach and several teammates told the panel that Hill would never intentionally hurt another wrestler. The alleged victim, meanwhile, testified that Hill had bullied him and that he was fearful of retaliation at school.

Hill faces a criminal trial on the sexual battery charge in Fresno County Superior Court. His trial is scheduled for Jan. 27.