The small town of La Vernia, Texas, has been rocked by an ongoing sexual abuse scandal at a public high school.
In a new lawsuit against the La Vernia Independent School District, a family alleges their son, listed as John Doe, was raped and sexually assaulted more than 30 times by his teammates in the high school athletic program between October of 2016 and February of 2017.
And Doe is not alone. Ten other boys came forward when the scandal first broke last year with stories that they’d been subjected to humiliating sexual assaults and hazing rituals. Some recounted being raped with coke bottles and baseball bats.
A mother of one of the victims told Fox29, “Kids were holding them down in the locker rooms, there was a lookout at the door watching for coaches. … They hold them down and stick various items up their rectum … including Coke bottles, deodorant bottles, steel pipes, baseball bats, and broomsticks.”
A previous civil lawsuit, filed in April, alleges that coaches knew about the assaults and yet did nothing. The suit says the coaching staff “sanctioned these rituals,” and school officials “turned a blind eye toward the abuse, even after the abuse was reported to them.”
The new lawsuit now contends that a coach was within earshot of an assault on Doe in the school gymnasium in January of 2017. When Doe emerged he says one of the coaches was standing there. “It was clear [the coach] heard the screaming and yelling,” says the lawsuit. But he “ignored the assault and did nothing.”
Thirteen students have been charged in the assaults, including seven juveniles. All have denied the allegations. They remain out of jail after posting bail and await potential trials after police conclude their investigations.
Alfonso Cabanas, a lawyer for one of the accused, 18-year-old Dustin Norman, told the Daily Beast that indictments have yet to be issued to any of the suspects. He described the investigation as “extremely slow.”
“After our careful investigation regarding this filed lawsuit, we believe we are on solid ground that our minor client suffered severe and permanent mental and physical injuries as a result of this,” said Fidel Rodriguez, an attorney for Doe’s family told the San Antonio Express News. “These types of cases need to be brought out into the light so that they don’t happen again to any other student-athlete in the state of Texas.”
Jose Moreno, the superintendent of the school, resigned in the wake of the scandal.
Gary Patterson, the interim superintendent of La Vernia school district, told the Express News: “We’re looking forward to resolution of these issues and are awaiting the results of the Texas Ranger investigation to assist the district as we move forward. The district’s internal investigation is ongoing and in conjunction with the Rangers’ investigation.”
Doe has since moved to another school district.
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