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Authorities charged nine students with sexual assault in a high school hazing scandal that rocked a south Texas community in March, and some of the disturbing details of the alleged attacks started to emerge.
The episodes occurred in the La Vernia High School locker room involving mainly football players but some were students from the school’s basketball and baseball programs, according to the San Antonio Express-News.
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Last Thursday, officers arrested seven students, minors, and processed them through the Wilson County Juvenile Probation Office. Afterwards, they were returned to their parents, said La Vernia Police Chief Police Chief Bruce Ritchey in a March 23 press release. On Monday, officers apprehended two more students, both of legal age, and charged them as adults. They booked the teens into the Wilson County Jail. Other unidentified La Vernia High graduates were named as persons of interest.
One mother, who remained anonymous, told KABB the alleged gruesome details of an assault on her son. “Kids were holding them down in locker rooms, there was a lookout at the door watching for coaches not to come,” she said, adding that while holding down victims, purported assailants stuck “various items up their rectum … including coke bottles, deodorant bottles, steel pipes, baseball bats, and broom sticks.”
Authorities believe the hazing also happened last year and may date back to the 2014-15 school year. Police confirmed all those arrested and their alleged victims were male. The Express-News noted La Vernia ISD and district attorney’s office officials will decide whether the seven juveniles will return to La Vernia High School or get placed in a disciplinary alternative education program (DAEP) campus.
On Monday, La Vernia Independent School District Superintendent José Moreno issued a prepared statement. “I cannot tell you what disciplinary actions have been or will be taken” but they will be “in accordance with the district’s Student Code of Conduct and based upon the information provided by law enforcement officials to date,” he said.
Moreno posted a few statements on the La Vernia ISD Facebook page since last Thursday. Mostly, he apprised families of developments and let them know the school district was fully cooperating with law enforcement’s investigation. He assured parents of their children’s safety and underscored the gravity of the situation while advising counselors were available to students at the high school.
In a lengthy Sunday post, the superintendent wrote, in part: “The travesty of the events occurring at the La Vernia High School has crushed the spirit of our community. Our most valued beings, our children, are the reason that we live and serve in La Vernia…I ask that we unite and focus on recovering through this challenging time together.” Moreno shared the district will add new protocols for “a clear path of communication” so students can better report concerns, receive counseling, and other services.
These sexual assault allegations surfaced a few weeks ago when La Vernia police received an “outcry of hazing involving high school student athletes.” Police Chief Bruce Ritchey said several students gave forensic interviews to the Children’s Alliance of South Texas, an advocacy center that provides support services to child victims of sexual and physical abuse, neglect, or those who witness violent crime. When “the results of the interviews confirmed evidence a crime had been committed,” La Vernia police launched an investigation.
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