Nine Texas high school students have been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting several other male students in an athletics hazing scandal that has shaken the community.
Seven juvenile La Vernia High School students were arrested on March 23 for their suspected involvement in the incidents, reports My San Antonio. On March 27, two adult students were arrested. Officials believe that the school football team is mainly behind the extreme hazing, although athletes on the basketball and baseball teams are also suspected.
Officers are investigating sexual assaults for the 2016-2017 school year but believe that the disturbing incidents may have started in 2014.
A mother of one of the victims told KABB that her son told her one day that he did not want to attend football practice anymore, and she knew something was wrong. It was only later that she learned that he was sexually assaulted.
"Kids were holding them down in the locker rooms, there was a lookout at the door watching for coaches not to come," the mom told the station. "They hold them down and stick various items up their rectum... including coke bottles, deodorant bottles, steel pipes, baseball bats and broomsticks."
Court documents obtained by the station say that several school athletes, including the two adult students who are charged with sexual assault of a child, were at a house with one of the boys who had just made it onto the varsity team. The others said that they were going to "initiate him" and yelled "get him." Four boys held down the victim and sexually assaulted him with a CO2 air tank hose as he screamed for help, the documents say.
"Hazing is not uncommon, but hazing to this extent is uncommon," La Vernia Chief of Police Bruce Ritchey told My San Antonio.
After the first round of arrests, more victims have come forward, and several of the school's graduates are listed as persons of interest, Ritchey said.
"It's a black eye for the city," he added. "What I'm concerned with right now is providing the help and healing for those victimized."
Though at least least one former employee of the district said that it was hard to believe that such "good students" would sexually assault their teammates, the police station said in a statement that several students have given "forensic interviews" which "confirmed evidence that a crime had been committed," according to KSAT.
The school district said in a statement that it is "under strict guidelines and is not able to comment on the complaint at this time."
"Rest assured that every precautionary measure has been taken to ensure that our students are supervised and safe," La Vernia Independent School District Superintendent Jose Moreno said in the statement.