Nine high school students in Texas allegedly took part in a hazing scandal involving several athletic programs that targeted victims who were held down in locker rooms and sexually assaulted with soda bottles, deodorant, steel pipes and even baseball bats, according to one student’s mother.
The hazing scandal primarily involved football players at La Vernia High School in La Vernia, a farming community of about 1,000 people about 20 miles east of San Antonio, but the school’s baseball and basketball teams were also involved, the San Antonio Express-News reports.
“It’s a black eye for the city,” La Vernia Chief of Police Bruce Ritchey told the newspaper. “What I’m concerned with right now is providing the help and healing for those victimized.”
Seven juvenile students who were arrested last week have been released to their parents, while the two adult students are being booked into the Wilson County Jail.
Several graduates of the school are “persons of interest” in the ongoing investigation and police expect additional arrests, said Ritchey, who told reporters the allegations could date back to 2014.
“Hazing is not uncommon,” he said. “But hazing to this extent is uncommon.”
All of the students who were arrested and victimized in the hazing scandal are male, KABB reports.
The mother of one victim who asked not to be identified said her son was sexually assaulted as other students held him down and someone acted as a lookout for coaches and school officials.
“Kids were holding them down in the locker rooms,” she told the station. “There was a lookout at the door watching for coaches not to come.
They hold them down and stick various items up their rectum … including Coke bottles, deodorant bottles, steel pipes, baseball bats and broomsticks.”
The mother said she knew something was wrong when her son abruptly said he no longer wanted to attend football practice.
The alleged hazing took place inside locker rooms at the public high school, according to the station.
There are at least 10 alleged victims and authorities expect others to come forward.
“Being able to give them those immediate resources that are available for them to start this healing process and we have those resources ready for them so they can visit if they come forward,” La Vernia police Sgt. Donald Keil told the station.
Jose Moreno, superintendent of the La Vernia Independent School District, said the allegations have “crushed the spirit” of the community.
“I ask that we unite and focus on recovering through this challenging time together,” Moreno wrote on the district’s Facebook page. “
I encourage you to be thoughtful before posting negative comments on various social media outlets that may be hurtful to students, staff, and community members.
Let’s instead use it as a tool to communicate our true identity and tell a story of our wonderful students and their accomplishments.”
School administrators and athletic department directors will now implement additional ways for students to report concerns or receive counseling, Moreno said.
Ritchey announced last week that several students submitted for “forensic interviews” with the Children’s Alliance of South Texas after the department received tips on the alleged hazing.
The results of the those interviews confirmed a “crime has been committed,” Ritchey told KENS5.