More than 10 boys have come forward with accusations of sexual assault against the athletes of La Vernia High School near San Antonio, Texas.
Nine high school football players reportedly took part in sexually assaulting new students and sodomized them with various objects, including steel pipes, soda bottles, deodorant and even baseball bats.
According to one instance described in the affidavit, four players, who were at home off-campus, allegedly held a 16-year-old boy face down on a bed while assaulting him with a threaded end of a carbon dioxide cylinder.
“The victim struggled to stop the assault, but was overpowered by the four suspects and pinned down where he could not move,” wrote La Vernia police Sgt. Donald Keil, in the affidavit.
All the victims were male.
The mother of one victim realized something was wrong when her son came home and told her he no longer wanted to be part of the football team.
“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.”
Sexual assaults under the guise of hazing took place inside locker rooms at the public high school, according to the station. The abuse had been going on for years, at least since the 2014-15 school year, police believe.
The assaults involve football, baseball and basketball players. Up till now, 10 victims have come forward but it is believed more will also file complaints.
Seven students, who were arrested last week after the allegations, are minors and have been released to their parents, but the two 18-year-old students have been booked into the Wilson County Jail on charges of sexual assault on a child. Their names have not been released because they are students.
Meanwhile, many of the senior students support the accused players.
“Some kids, mostly athletes, are calling the victims ‘rats and snitches,’” said a student who wished to remain anonymous. “A lot of people are saying they feel bad for [the accused], that they didn’t do anything too extreme.” He also said that some students had started wearing shorts emblazoned with the photo of one of the suspect’s faces.
“I know a lot of these boys and they’re good people,” the student added. “I grew up with them. They wouldn’t have done this individually. But once you put them in a group with others, it’s like peer pressure.”
Some parents blamed the school staff for the incident.
“What the boys did was disgusting and terrible, but none of this would be allowed to happen if these kids were better monitored. I guess the teachers are too busy stealing money, having sex with students and looking at child porn to watch the kids,” one mother said.
For the moment, the police reportedly want the incident to be hushed
“It’s a black eye for the city,” La Vernia Chief of Police Bruce Ritchey said. “What I’m concerned with right now is providing the help and healing for those victimized.”
“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,” said Keil.
Jose Moreno, superintendent of the La Vernia Independent School District, said the “travesty” has “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.”
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Neil Hall