The small Texas town of La Vernia has been rocked by a sexual-abuse hazing scandal that could turn the entire school district upside down. Now a lawsuit has been filed and arrests have been made in a case that could end up being one of the furthest-reaching hazing scandals ever in American high school sports.
Are you watching, coaches and administrators at every high school in America?
At least 10 victims have come forward, each one alleging initiation-style hazing that sometimes included sodomy and sexual assault with objects including flashlights and Coke and Gatorade bottles.
So far 13 students have been arrested in conjunction with the allegations that will be prosecuted by the state attorney general’s office. The parents of one of the alleged victims, a football player, have also filed a lawsuit in Federal court alleging Federal civil rights violations by the school superintendent, principal, athletic directors, coaches and more. The case filing lists over a half-dozen specific incidents of physical and sexual assault.
"A pervasive 'rape culture' dominated the School's football program, including hazing, harassment, bullying, physical and sexual abuse, and other unlawful treatment of athletic program participants. ...
“The subject hazing rituals and traditions are a form of bullying and have been part of the culture of the School's football team for at least a decade, according to news accounts, and possibly longer. The teams' coaches have sanctioned these rituals, while other school officials, including La Vernia ISD and the School's principal, athletic director, and coaches, turned a blind eye toward the abuse, even after the abuse was reported to them."
You can read the Federal court filing here.
La Vernia is a town of about 1,000 people located 25 miles east of San Antonio.
Maybe the craziest part of this is that we’ve seen it before. We’ve seen court cases of football teams sodomizing players and coaches looking the other way. Lives of victims and assailants get turned upside down or even ruined in their teenage years, and coaches and administrators lose their jobs or worse. Yet coaches and administrators continue to ignore the lessons and create atmospheres that do not effectively address hazing.
Hopefully this case will open countless eyes and help stop more abusive and illegal hazing before it starts.