The Wednesday afternoon campus arrest of another student suspect in the La Vernia High School Boys Athletics sex abuse scandal set off another wave of shock and sadness in the city of 1,250, located 30 minutes southeast of San Antonio.
Alejandro Ibarra, 18, was charged with sexual assault, a serious felony offense. Ibarra’s arrest brings the total to 10. He, along with Robert Olivarez, Jr. and Dustin Norman, both 18, are the three adults charged. Seven teens have also been identified as being involved.
Through the investigation of La Vernia Police Department, headed by Sgt. Donald Keil, and Texas Rangers, officers learned the three adult suspects, along with a juvenile suspect, held a 16-year-old male classmate down at an off campus home and sexually assaulted him with the threaded end of a CO2 air tank.
The November 2016 crime was said to be part of the victim’s initiation into the varsity football team from the junior-varsity team. At least ten students have been identified as victims of what some are calling a “hazing scandal.”
“We’re lucky no one has died,” a credible source close to the investigations told NEW LEGIT. “Some of the acts committed on these boys were unbearably dangerous and brutal. This case goes beyond just the high school.”
Some of the alleged crimes were committed in the boy’s athletic locker room. Information culled from the victims and their families has broadened the investigation with allegations going back previous years. The source confirmed an investigation involving an 8th grade female student at the Junior High is part of the scope of the case. Parents and victims are being urged to contact the La Vernia Police Department to aid in their investigations and to provide direction for counseling and services needed. Some of the victims and their family members have contacted NEWS LEGIT’s Jack Dennis to offer information. Dennis is referring them to La Vernia police. La Vernia chief investigator Sgt. Keil is asking for any parents of other victims to contact him at (830) 779-2113 or send him an email at dkeillvpd@lavernia-TX.gov.
In at least two instances, victims said they went to the coaches, the school administration and “even to the superintendent” during previous years but no action was taken.
“They wanted to protect the football program,” a former student, now in college, who checked out LVISD to be homeschooled said. “They (school officials) were told but those coaches and the football team were obviously more important than I was to them. Now look what happened. It just continues and more of us are hurt.”
Another victim has come forward with similar allegations. In an email to NEWS LEGIT’s Jack Dennis, a confirmed former student wrote:
“Hello Mr. Dennis,
…gave me your email address and told me that you have been writing articles about the harassment at La Vernia ISD, and that I should get in contact with you.
I was a student at La Vernia ISD from 1998 to 2011, when I was suspended and promptly pulled out to attend a home-schooling program for my final year…I’ve experienced bullying, hazing, death-threats, and homophobic treatment since I was five years old. Ironically, I’m not even gay. I was different, and nobody liked that…The point is that I am a victim of La Vernia ISD, and the scandal that you have been writing about has been going on for longer than the media claims. I am a witness to favoritism towards athletic, academic, and Christian students; along with the unwillingness to punish those who brought the school good attention. Some teachers and vice principals even had personal friendships with students; friendships that I believe were completely unprofessional.
I would love to tell you my story, and be a voice for the victims being ignored by La Vernia ISD.”
NEWS LEGIT will be receiving his story soon. The father of another alleged victim said he has talked with other parents who have “concerns that the school district and D.A.’s office will try to cover this up because they are all well connected.”
“We are going to ask for an independent investigation from the Attorney General’s office because some of the judges and politicians around here are just too close,” he said. “They know the families and these guys that did it. Even though they are juveniles, that doesn’t give anyone the right or privilege to sweep this under the rug. They had better not even think about it. Not here. Not now. Not ever.”
“When you send your children to school, you expect them to enjoy traditional rituals like getting senior rings or going to a prom,” said one angry La Vernia mother. “We don’t expect them to be raped. Something is very wrong here if our children are being molested under the supervision of the school district. Everyone is hearing about a rape in the bathroom of the junior high and now we hear this. Parents should have been told. We have a right to know. This school district owes us answers.”
The source confirmed the concerns of parents and students “are legitimate and some of this is not rumor. They did brutally inserted things like a pipe, baseball bat and other times up their rectums.”
Community members have reached out to help with the healing as more news is revealed. In this small town, practically everyone is a victim.
“When the phone rings I worry it may be the police,” one mother said. “I go pick up my son now from school. I never did that before, especially since he is high school. But when school is over and I see him come out it is such a relief. I know parents who learned their son was involved. They are in such incredible pain. We all are. We’ve seen these boys grow up and can’t help but wonder what happened because some of them have always been so polite and sweet. We know families of victims. The suspects and victims, in many cases, grew up together as friends. It’s just crazy and hard to wrap our head around it. It isn’t supposed to happen here.”
La Vernia’s St. Ann’s Catholic Church focused on forgiveness at their “Faith Factor” youth ministry Wednesday night.
“Our society doesn’t want to see something wrong. When something wrong happens, we want to crucify them. This is a little bit hypocritical,” Father Stain Fiuk told local KENS5 News. “We want to see only negative, but I am asking where is positive? Not only on the level of La Vernia, but on the level of the state, on the level of the country, we are sick. These children need mercy and we have to learn to be merciful because they are victims of the sick society.”