Former La Vernia student reveals his years of abuse, alienation and fear in schools

Christian De La Garza

This former student chronicles his fright, alienation and tough times while attending schools in La Vernia, a town about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio, Texas. Although he provided names, NEWS LEGIT has elected not to reveal the identities of the individuals (with the exception of the Superintendent) this young man identified.  He has been provided contact information and advised to communicate with law enforcement. 

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Christian De La Garza attended La Vernia schools 1999-2011. (Facebook photo)

Christian De La Garza was a student in the La Vernia Independent School from 1999 through 2011. He 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 small town of 1,250 and the surrounding rural area have been rattled to the core as families and educators have been forced to come to terms with a series of painful and generally taboo events throughout the community. The recent arrests of ten students in the boy’s athletic program in connection with at least 25 victims of sex abuse has been “potentially devastating. One father describe the town as “all messed up. We are all victims.”

“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,” Del La Garza wrote to NEWS LEGIT. “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 was conditioned to believe that nobody wants to help me.”

De La Garza said that although his story lasted years and is long, “I know that I wasn’t raped like these kids were, but the abuse was all there from day one. I’m coming out and saying all of this because I was still a victim of sexual assault and neglect by the teachers.”

“To this day, though my grades are better, I struggle in college because I was conditioned to believe that nobody wants to help me,” he wrote. “Above all else, I want to be a voice for the kids like me, both before and after me. The investigation needs to go back further than 2014, and if I have to be the voice that gets others to come forward and back me up on telling them to look back further, I will gladly be that voice. This sick and twisted behavior is not new, and it’s not going away. Rape has been the culture at that school for much longer than 2014.”

By the time he started La Vernia kindergarten in 1999, De La Garza had “gone through a bit already. My parents were divorced since I was less than a year old, and my grandfather pulled me out of preschool.”

Although he was too young to remember why, his grandfather told him later that because of “some sort of inappropriate behavior” De La Garza was subject to “heavy spanking for something minor.”

“Until kindergarten I just assumed my life was normal,” De La Garza explained. “The other students were ahead of me, and I was behind the curve, because apparently in La Vernia it’s just assumed that you attended preschool as part of the learning curve, and suddenly I was beginning to realize that I was not a normal kid. That’s the way I felt at least.”

“Immediately it came up that my parents were divorced, and others’ weren’t. I had somehow regressed and forgotten how to read and write,” De La Garza said. “I still occasionally wet my pants. I was behind. Now I know that’s normal, but from the very beginning it wasn’t accepted. I was the odd one out, and everyone either avoided or belittled me.”

Christian as ‘Spiderman” on his birthday (Facebook Photo)

“The worst of it happened when I went to school with blue nails,” De La Garza remembered. “School colors are blue. I grew up with two women. I was five years old, and I loved having my nails painted. Apparently that wasn’t okay.”

De La Garza says he “was teased as soon as I entered the room, and instead of using that opportunity to teach acceptance, I was sent to the nurses office to have the polish removed. They called my mother for causing a disturbance. All I remember about that day was the nurse telling me, ‘Boys don’t do that, honey.’ My mom took me to McDonalds to cheer me up, but I also know that that was the beginning of the next decade of my life.”

In the first grade De La Garza had been in “one or two” scuffles, “just kid stuff. I only had one or two friends in the entire school. I was caught up with the learning curve, but was still alienated by everyone. That was the year I went home and asked my mom if I was gay, because that’s what people called me. Supposedly I wasn’t. I don’t think I was, I mean I’ve had crushes on girls since Kindergarten.”

“I was groped. I swung my jacket at the person and screamed, ‘SEXUAL ABUSE’ at the top of my lungs. Every kid laughed.”

Throughout elementary school “everyone assumed I was gay, everyone avoided me. Girls thought I was gross, the only girl that liked me moved away. And the bullying slowly became worse. Around fifth grade, all the other boys discovered what sex was. I’m not even going to begin to ask how they knew the amount of details they did, but given that in later years they were showing THEIR little brothers porn, I can only guess that fifth grade is where that cycle starts. I didn’t know as much as them. I didn’t curse. I didn’t ogle girls, or laugh at the word ‘naked,’ so again: ‘Totally gay.’”

Christian De La Garza enjoyed sci-fi role playing at an early age. (Facebook Photo)

“‘Retard’ had also been added to that list.”

“That’s the first year someone touched me, because apparently pretending to have sex was funny,” De La Garza said. “I was groped. I swung my jacket at the person and screamed, ‘SEXUAL ABUSE’ at the top of my lungs. Every kid laughed. The teachers told me that my words weren’t appropriate, and I got in trouble for whipping the boy with the zipper of my jacket. He was never punished.”

“Sixth grade wasn’t a part of the middle school, so it was mostly the same garbage. I remember having to take anger management classes for my outbursts against the bullies. I was ahead of the curve physically for that single year, and academically I had been going strong, but I was still ‘Gay.’ That’s also the year I learned about Gifted and Talented, a program for smart students. Apparently if you were smart enough, you were allowed to be taken to special classes, and do fun projects. If you weren’t in Gifted and Talented you were treated as beneath them. I missed it by two points, and no one ever let me forget it.”

De La Garza had to deal with “verbal abuse for years, with arguments I cannot recall, but sixth grade brings back the ugliest verbal memory I have. La Vernia is a very religious community, and as such I gave a very religious argument: ‘God doesn’t make mistakes.’”

“God made you so that He could look down at someone and laugh,” he was told.

“The middle school vice principal in 2007-2008 was the most helpful faculty member I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.”

“And that is the mentality that they all proved to live by over the next few years,” he said. The bullying was escalating but De La Garza “joined band, made a lot of friends, and met up with the older kids I knew in Boy Scouts.”

“Everything kind of looked okay for once, with normal teenaged drama being the worst of it from my perspective,” he said. “Except that in my efforts to look scary to scare off the bullies, teachers liked me even less.”

“The middle school vice principal in 2007-2008 was the most helpful faculty member I have ever had the pleasure of knowing,” De La Garza smiled. “He helped me. He switched me out of classes to get me away from bullies. He listened to my mother and he even connected me with a counselor from outside of the school. As I lost touch with my elementary school counselor and anger management became less and less personal. This counselor felt like my once a week escape from class.”

“Middle School was also the time when my defiance got me into trouble for the first time. In defending myself, I became confident and snarky, and at one point that I was accused of breaking a girl’s wrist. The principal of the school distinctly blamed my father for my behavior, and sympathized with my poor mother. It wasn’t until years later that I began to question if she meant my Mexican father and my poor white mother. Regardless, the girl dropped the charges, and it seems like she made it all up.”

Like all boys in middle school, De La Garza was introduced to having to “change clothes in a locker room. For the first year, I had my older friend Tim next to me, and I felt perfectly fine. Eighth grade, I never felt quite comfortable. People would whisper comments about raping me in the showers, or tell me to not look at them, or remark about having to share a locker room with a ‘Faggot.” It became so bad De La Garza resorted to hiding “a knife in my pocket and always showered with my underwear on.”

“That summer the only vice principal who ever helped me committed suicide.”

“The kids that bullied me became more violent, and more abusive.”

At La Vernia High School De La Garza says that “everything started to reach its peak. The kids that bullied me became more violent, and more abusive.”

“They showed off videos of their little brothers watching porn,” he remembers. “They joked about killing dogs. They remarked that dogs are to keep people from killing people. They threatened me and told the teachers I had knives and swords. I even got hit in the face with a rock.”

“I was so broken at that point that I never told on anyone for assaulting me because nothing would get done,” De La Garza revealed. “I would be put in a Full Nelson (a term for a wrestling hold), and they’d talk about how they could beat me up. I would be pinned against the lockers and they’d touch my butt.”

They would intimidate “and tell me all the things they could do. It was all verbal threats, but the fear was there,” he said. “They wanted me to know that at any moment they could rape me, kill me, drown me. I would get into trouble for refusing to change clothes in the locker room. I would get caught with a knife in my pocket, or get detention for screaming back at a person. I was extremely paranoid and jumpy, and no one knew why because no one was paying attention.”

“I felt like I was going to die there, but if I was going to die, I made sure that someone was going to see it.”

De La Garza says that when any of the boys asked for help against the bully that the reply from teachers and coaches was “always ‘Boys will be boys’ or ‘Tell me their names’ or ‘That’s not good enough, I need to see it happen.’ The only person to ever look at a camera and catch someone strangling me was Mr. (teacher), and that kid was never seen again.”

Christian De La Garza finds solace with other college students who enjoy sci-fi, popular arts, anime, comic culture and gaming. (Facebook Photo)

“Why was I never raped? Because I fought. I knew where the cameras were.”

De La Garza said he learned to survive by luring “assailants to witnesses. I would stand in open spaces, talk loudly, kick, punch, struggle. I felt like I was going to die there, but if I was going to die, I made sure that someone was going to see it. That is the only reason that the worst they ever did to me was groping– because I would make a scene, and I was not afraid to get punished for making a scene.”

De La Garza pointed out a vice principal who was “all about academics, not discipline…this is when it all began to go downhill…He wanted us to look like gentlemen, act like gentlemen, and he cared more about our outward appearance than what was going on. He would punish me for possessing—yes–possessing headphones. He would watch out for the kids with long hair which was against the dress code. He would question me about my sword collections, and my big mouth, and my black clothes, but he would never do anything about the abuse. He even went as far as to tell a room full of students that ‘Tucking your shirt in is a state law.’”

When students called him out, “he would punish us for inappropriate language or behavior. Kids were suspended for having long hair,” but if someone physically assault someone they’d face a “slap on the wrist.”

During his junior year De La Garza asked his English teacher if he could be excused and go work in the hallway “before I say something I might regret?”

“What do you mean by that?” the teacher asked.

“They (bullies) were provoking me,” he replied and explained he was concerned their continuous taunting would cause him to “lash out verbally and embarrass myself.”

“She told me to try to tough it out and I did,” De La Garza said. The next day I was called into the Vice Principal’s office for a ‘Gun threat.’

“Is that why you’re acting out? Because your daddy abandoned you?”

“So what she got out of me wanting to leave the situation was a gun threat,” De Le Garza admits he was upset about the accusation because it was false and he argued with the vice principal. “He didn’t listen and eventually he said, ‘We take safety seriously. I have to suspend you for a week.’”

“He tried calling my mom, no answer, he tried calling my grandparents, no answer,” he continued. “He let me sit outside his office while another student walked in. What I heard horrified me. He asked the kid about throwing trays, and the kid denied it. He talked about the same bullies I dealt with who were trying to make him throw away their trash. He claimed he pushed their trash aside and walked away. The next thing I heard was Mr. (Vice Principal) slamming his fist on his desk and yelling full volume at this kid for being a bully.”

La Vernia, Texas Tower (Photo by Jack Dennis)

“He said he was calling these kids in,” De La Garza said. “And who showed up but some of the same kids he would never listen to me about. And what was the first thing he did when he saw them? He shook their hand and started talking about ‘last week’s hunting trip.’”

“All this time and he was friends with these students,” De La Garza was shocked. “Actual friends with these students. I called him out. The secretary got freaked out by me. He sent me to the next room over and tried calling my parents again.”

There was no answer on either line. The vice principal asked, “What about your dad?”

“My parents are divorced!” I laughed, “My dad could come get me, but it will take him two hours to get me.”

According to De La Garza, the vice president hung up the phone and asked, “Is that why you’re acting out? Because your daddy abandoned you?”

“I refused to speak a word to him.”

De La Garza says he was suspended and the student he was “verbally abusing” was punished.

“He told me that I couldn’t ride the bus because I was a safety concern,” De La Garza stated. “He finally contacted my grandparents and told them I was suspended, but never told them to pick me up. I spent two hours there waiting, and finally he threatened to call the cops on me for still being there. I called my grandmother, she picked me up, and I never went back.”

That week his family found a home-school program, Mt. Zion Academy, to help him continue his high school education.

“They are committed to covering up problems, and hiding from challenges.”

“I want to testify against anyone they investigate. I want to be a witness, I want to find these people, and if someone hands me a yearbook I will give names; but I never bothered to remember these people’s names. They abused me, so of course I didn’t ask what their name was. I know their faces, and I know what they did. I don’t know who to get in contact with, other than you, but this is not about ten seconds of fame or glory. This is about not letting these people get away with rape and assault.”

Dr. Jose H. Moreno, Superintendent of La Vernia Independent School District (LVISD)

Publicly, School District Superintendent Dr. José Moreno described the acts as coming from an “underground culture of acceptance.” In a March 27, 2017 De La Garza sent a Facebook response to Dr. Moreno’s statement he posted on social media. Obviously upset, he wrote “You’re so concerned with the sports teams and your pride that you never saw what was going on right in front of you. They got away with it because La Vernia wanted to look like an amazing small town. Your staff, teachers, and administrators failed me. They are committed to covering up problems, and hiding from challenges.”

“I’m glad you’re creating a way for students to voice concerns,” De La Garza posted. “I’m glad you’re trying to make La Vernia a better place, but do that by talking about the problem, not covering it up with bullxxxx about a wonderful community… I was kicked out for threatening to defend myself, not to hurt anyone, but to lash out with words…To be clear, I was only kicked out for two weeks, but I didn’t go back. They yelled and bullied students into confessing to things that they didn’t do, they protected the bullies because they were friends with families, your small town is nothing but lies, pride, and the wrong kind of Christianity.”

Today De La Garza, like many young college students, enjoys the comradery and solace he feels in the comic medium world of popular arts, costume competition, programming, anime screenings, and gaming. He graduated from private school with a GPA of 3.5 and has a girlfriend, Cerenity, “that helped me remember how to be a normal person. She helped me get over my defensiveness, and PTSD, and anxiety.”

“So to anyone out there who feels broken, and used, and alone–to anyone who has been raped, tortured, molested, belittled–to anyone who thinks that no one will ever love them because they are broken, or see themselves as a used toy… You don’t have to be brand new, or perfect, or normal. You don’t have to be some knight in shining armor,” De La Garza notes. “We love you with all of your flaws, all of your cracks and tears, all of your bad days. You are not alone, you are never alone. There are others like you, others like us, and they will love you…I will be a voice for the abused, and I will always care.”

Luis Robert Vera, Jr. Law office

All Seasons Ground Care

 

 

11 Comments on "Former La Vernia student reveals his years of abuse, alienation and fear in schools"

  1. Bobbi Dennis Shipman | April 5, 2017 at 12:47 pm | Reply

    Bless his heart.

  2. Carmen Casey | April 5, 2017 at 4:28 pm | Reply

    Oh! My! Lord! this BROKE MY HEART this morning – I read your story in tears – I am so so sorry that this happened to you – nobody deserves to be treated in this manner and its a sad fact that it does happen, and that many in a position to do something about it would rather concentrate on lesser important issues -ie. shirts tucked in, the length of a girls skirt – I can’t get you out of my mind, and I sincerely hope that your life turned out, and continues to turn out for the better – who know what you were supposed to learn from that awful time in school – but sharing your story is a way to bring this type of behaviour into focus – thank you for being brave enough to share your experience, and may God bless you and you go on to live a more loving, safe and secure life with better friends and better leadership and guidance throughout your life !!

  3. Thanks for sharing young man. You have become a positive in todays society.

  4. Kelly Sorken | April 5, 2017 at 7:40 pm | Reply

    This is sickening, but sadly most likely all accurate. Floresville ISD was the same way when my kids went there. If you were on an athletic team, or had the “right” last name, the rules didn’t apply to you the same as everyone else. It resulted in my removal of them from the school, and soon after to leave the county.

  5. Christian, I am so proud of you for bringing this out into the open. I’m lucky to be able to say that you are my future grandson in law!!!!! We all love you!!!! Nana

    • I believe every word this kid said. Now, I’m not sure about the sexual stuff, because that didn’t happen when I was there. If it did, I never saw it. I went to LVISD from 1979-1992. If you want to hear about corruption though, I’ll write you a book.

  6. This kind of abuse, By Football Players, has been common place for as long as I can remember. In the early 60s the SAME things happened in the high school I attendant not far from La Vernia and the faculty KNEW about it and did NOTHING. As long as a Football player was involved the incident was covered up and the Parents were LIED TO by the School. From beating, pushing kids around in the halls, threats of violence, damage to personal vehicles to being force to be a punching bag on the football field in sixth Period PE if you were UNLUCKY enough to have been put in that time slot. It was all part of what we had to endure if you weren’t a child of “Certain Parents” (Sports Boosters or fund raisers,,or just RICH) or a Football player. So this was NOT just within the Field house of Football teams…it was everywhere and EVERONE was a potential Target. Most of these jocks we like roving bans of thugs doing and getting away with whatever they wanted and even the Teachers,,,the ones the weren’t coaches, were afraid to speak up for fear of action against THEM. One more reason I NEVER watch sports,,i KNOW the kind of people that populate the Majority of the Games which was later Confirmed when I was an LEO and worked security at Basketball games for extra money ,,and they are NOT GOOD PEOPLE.

  7. Kimberlyn (Boster) Everidge | April 6, 2017 at 7:40 pm | Reply

    I went to La Vernia when I was in Ninth and Tenth grade (2008-2010) And I was hazed, bitten, the teachers acted like they could never be bothered. If you weren’t the pastor’s daughter or you weren’t friends with her or on the athletic’s team you were treated like you were beneath them. I was a goth kid from Washington state, so I was different. I was also a military brat so have moved from state to state the most of my life. Needless to say, being the new kid was the normal for me. A couple months of being there a kid in my history class and I were partnered up to do an assignment. I found an answer and reached over to show him where I found it and next thing I know his teeth where on my arm. THIS KID HAD ACTUALLY BIT ME! I went to tell the teacher and she didn’t do anything about it, and it happened literally right in front of her!!! SO I went to the office and asked to talk to the vice prinipal or somebody about this kid biting my arm. After I told the vice principal about what had happened he told me that he would talk to him. I got home and told my mother “These kids here are a bunch of darn preschoolers who can’t keep there teeth to themselves” my mom looked at me like I had three heads until I showed her the back of my arm where the kid bit me, which was now black and blue even though he bit me through the sweater I was wearing. My mom went mama bear mode and went to the office herself and talked to the principal. Nothing about the situation was taken care of.
    Another kid in my English class everyday would throw me into a locker in the hall and would sexually harass me to the point I again went to the principal only to have them not do anything about it. Day after day I endured bruises and being pushed into lockers. My tormentors never left me alone during the school day, I tried to get away from them during lunch, to the point that I took my lunch to the drama room so I could eat in peace. That’s when I found out there were other outcasts like myself. Guys who got harassed because their hair was to long, one guy even told the teacher that it was against his race to cut his hair and she wouldn’t let up. The guy was Native American/Mexican decent. One day I asked them why the vice principal had paddles hanging on the wall and why every time I went in there the paddles where rearranged in a different order. I was told that they were used on the kids who got into trouble. I thought they were joking but, it made sense why they kept switching different pegs. They were never used on me so I assumed it was only rumors.
    That year I was put into this mandatory computer skills class (BCIS) with the worst teacher on the face of the earth. Every time I came in she would sneer at me, and would tell me that I never did my work. I did my work to a T, because if my mom found out that I wasn’t doing my work she would ground me. I was the only one in that class that was treated like I was beneath them and she would only talk to the cheer leaders and athletes like they were equals or her students. One day I went up to her and asked her what I was doing wrong to cause her to hate me. She rolled her eyes and sent me back to my seat. The next day and the days following after, she would pick me out of everyone in the hall and tell me I needed to tuck in my shirt. I looked at her and told her but I’m a girl and according to my understanding of the handbook (yes I read that thing on a whim) that only the guys were supposed to tuck in their shirts. “Well you still need to tuck in your shirt.” They made Tucking in your shirt a bigger issue then it really needed to be. One day I had asked my math teacher to clarify the rules for me about the whole “tucking in our shirt”. She told me that yes you are suppose to tuck in your shirt but if you are wearing a lacy camisole under it, it was fine. So the next day I tried it out, this goth girl wore jeans, a lacy camisole under a white baby doll shirt and cowboy boots. I went full cowgirl, just to fit in. I went down the hallway that I had to go through and sure enough my BCIS teacher was there waiting for me. I passed her with my head held high and a confident air to my walk. She stopped me and said “That’s it I have told you time and time again to tuck in your shirt and again and again you come to school with you shirt untucked. you are going to detention”. I didn’t try to talk my self out of it because it would only make it worse and let her write my pink slip. So you saw that my shirt wasn’t tucked in but you didn’t see the cheer leader’s boobs about hanging out of her shirt??? talk about your double standards. Let me make this clear to everyone even though I was a goth kid I NEVER had detention in my life, nor did I cause trouble. So when I got home that day and my mom asked me about my day and I burst into tears because I knew that I was in trouble for getting detention. When she saw why I was getting detention she went over the handbook with me and I told her what my math teacher told me about the camisole. She again went down to the office and told them that Everyday this teacher was harassing me about my shirt which was in dress code and why I was getting detention. That discussion went on and on until my mom walked out of the office fuming and in front of her what one of the female athletes shaking her butting in shorts (so short that went she bent over you saw everything!!!) and cowboy boots for her boyfriend and another guy. My mom turned to the Vice principal who acted like he didn’t see the female athlete and asked “Ok, so my daughter is going to detention for her shirt not being tucked in. What’s going to be done about the girl whose @$$ is hanging out and the boys drooling all over her?” The vice principal called the girl over and my mom left. Nothing was done to her either.
    During my experience of La Vernia high school my hair fell out in clumps, I started retreating into myself and stopped talking to people and was always looking over my shoulder in case one of my tormentors snuck up behind me. I broke up with my boyfriend who was on the football team at the time. I literally thought about just dropping out. When I told my mom that I wanted to drop out she took me out of school and home schooled me. The day She went to pull me out, the secretary told us that because I was being pulled out a week before school let out that if I ever wanted to come back I would have to repeat 10th grade all over again, and tried to bully me and my mom to letting me stay in the school system. I piped up and said “I wouldn’t be returning to this school” and I left.

  8. Unacceptable behaviors and not holding these types of behaviors accountable is sickening. It does no one any favors and causes damage to all involved. I am truly sorry for what happened to you and without a doubt God can use this for a beautiful purpose. You are unique, we all are and that is a wonderful thing. He did not make a mistake when He created you. Seek Him and listen to what He says about you, not what others who falsely claim to represent Him say. We are all broken and mesed up, the reason we all need a Savior. And I pray that you can use this as a way to continue to bring awareness and impact others. He makes all things good, even the awful things we experience, if we let Him.

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