The high school sex scandal in La Vernia, Texas is “is not going away,” said a source close to the investigation. “It’s growing.”
A prominent citizen likened the scandal to “a severe burn.” The resident, who has lived in the community–just 30 minutes southeast of San Antonio– for several decades told NEWS LEGIT this weekend, “In order for it to heal and recover it has to be scrubbed down layer after layer and treated with care and concern.”
“Yes it’s painful and yes it hurts to keep having to do it,” the resident said. “But the only way to properly deal with this situation is to keep going deeper or further back in this case and making those accountable for their actions that has so torn up the lives of a lot of good people. Protecting the guilty is why this has escalated to this point. These victims need to get the proper counseling and support not only from professionals but from the school district and the community as well. Being afraid or ashamed to come forward is not how to heal this burn. Making those accountable is a start.”
Local police Sargent Donald Keil, the chief investigator on the case, along with Police Chief Bruce Ritchie and others have been doing a crackerjack job on the enquiries and discoveries that rocked the small town of 1,250. They even brought in the Texas Rangers to help support the efforts, which have accounted for the arrest of 10 students recently. The accused were charged with sexual assault against more than 25 victims.
“We’re lucky no one died”
Investigators learned that 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. “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.”
“The parent of this child has gone through a living nightmare while her son struggled to deal with what happened,” a source, in education said. “As we understand it, she went to school authorities on several occasions to report it and seek help. She finally went to the police. After the Rangers and police investigation, and the Attorney General’s office looks into this, it is possible that the TEA (Texas Education Agency) may get involved.”
NEWS LEGIT has confirmed from several sources that one of the 10 suspects is the son of an educator in the school district. 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. A source also 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.
“This is an extremely sensitive issue for me as you can imagine,” the resident, who has male family members enrolled in LVISD schools. The “boys have been in all sports since 5 years old. They’ve played CYO, Little League and select sports. Many of these boys on both sides have little brothers that play on teams…So this is far reaching and affects innocent people that had nothing to do with these crimes.”
Last week, prior a LVISD Board Meeting, officials announced that the Texas Rangers and State Attorney General Office would take over the case.
“What we want to ensure is that the kids that had the courage to come forward, the families, the students of La Vernia ISD and the community and the accused and their families all understand that we want to preserve the integrity of the investigation,” 81st Judicial District Attorney Audrey Gossett Louis told the news media. “In light of that and as this investigation continues, it became clear to the County Attorney as well as myself were tied to suspects, victims and witnesses in the case. And because it is such a small, close-knit community, we don’t want there to be any perception of a conflict…because of that, our office, along with the Wilson County Attorney’s office has requested the assistance of the Attorney General as a special prosecutor in the case.”
“But as much as people want it to disappear, this sex scandal is not going away.”
Two sources close to the case and investigation confirmed that more arrests are expected as the “Rangers delve deeper into this.”
“More of these children are coming forward,” said the first source. “This is far reaching. But as much as people want it to disappear, this sex scandal is not going away. It’s growing. It is difficult to keep information from spreading here.”
“It has affected the sports teams and the pride in their Bears that has been ingrained in them for generations,” the resident shared. “It’s far reaching in the fact that many of the perpetrators were more than likely victims at some point. There’s no way of knowing how far back this goes and at what point that the so called hazing crossed the line into sexual assault.”
A father who attended last the school board meeting last week indicated he “walked away more angry and concerned than when I first arrived. All we had was a speech from the superintendent (Dr. Jose Moreno) with no answers, telling how much he cares for our children.”
“This current superintendent has repeatedly ignored complaints from parents and kids over the past couple of years,” the long-time resident commented. The good ole boy system often talked about throughout the town and the school district has been there as long as I’ve lived here. Probably not much different than in any other small town. But overall the people and kids of La Vernia are good, kind, caring and are usually generous in banding together to help anyone in need at any time.”
“He did nothing to help or protect the kids that were victimized.”
“We’ve had our share of corruption and just like with politicians we do our best to weed them out and elect or hire new ones,” the resident added. “Sometimes they do a good job with trying to fix what’s gone wrong and sometimes they fail. This superintendent has failed. I know of at least four different incidents of bullying and abuse that was brought directly to him by parents in regards to their kids. He did nothing to help or protect the kids that were victimized. His focus was on keeping it in house and the perpetrators were not punished or brought to justice.”
“Because of the severity of what the victims went through and the fact that nothing was done to stop it, the parents decided to take their kids out of the school altogether,” the resident said. “Instead of taking legal action, these parents felt that their kids had been through enough and didn’t want any further trauma by bringing it out in public and having them go through more. So these are the ones I know personally and it makes me wonder how many others throughout the years have this happened to with the same results. No action taken. Kids leave the school or drop out of sports. No consequences for perpetrators, nothing brought out in public, no coaches made accountable for these incidents so it continues year after year.”
“One instance the parent was a teacher and her child was one of the football hazing victims. She told the superintendent and he said he would look into it. Her son did not want to play football anymore and quit. He started having issues with not wanting to go to school and even got involved in drugs. She went back to superintendent and there had been no action taken against the alleged attackers of her kid and he again said he would look into it. Nothing got done. Her son tried to take his own life. She finally went to the police herself. This is what finally got the ball rolling on starting the investigations that eventually led to the arrest of the 10 boys so far.”
“He told them he would investigate the allegations. Again nothing was done.”
“I also have personal knowledge of 11 parents who went to him with their boys to lodge a complaint against a certain basketball coach in regards to how this coach was mistreating and talking to his players,” the resident said. “Talking down to them, using racial slurs etc. I realize this issue isn’t as severe as the physical and sexual abuse, but none the less it was brought to him. He told them he would investigate the allegations. Again nothing was done. No calls to the other parents of kids on the team that wasn’t a part of the ones complaining. No calls back to any of the parents that came forward to him with the complaints. No disciplinary action to the coach. Basketball season ended. Nothing done.”
“But my point is, this is not a superintendent that has a priority of protecting the kids in his district,” the resident continued. “I understand that he would not want to have these allegations made public because of the publicity involved and how it would affect the school district that he’s in charge of. If he had taken these parents complaints a couple of years ago and really, really looked into it and called these victims in and questioned them. And got the names of the boys that were doing it. And called them in and question them and talked to the coaches and questioned them at the very least it might have prevented the ongoing assaults from happening.”
“If he really cared about the kids of LVISD he would have taken those victims seriously and turned it over to the police,” the resident said. “That would of been the right thing to do regardless of the publicity and then the parents might believe that he really did care about the best interest of his students and not just about not making his school district look bad while he was in charge. More parents would have confidence that his priorities were in the right place. And how many victims would that have saved?”
“Be prepared by the way, the resident warned. “This is way bigger than anyone can imagine. For reasons that I’m sure you understand I do not want to be named. I have intimate knowledge of several more boys that will be arrested. Unfortunately, I personally know a few more victims that have come forth with more names.”
“This is a long drawn out process and the Texas Rangers have their hands full…More and more victims are getting the courage to come out. Maybe on their own or in some cases because parents are asking questions now and discovering that they either were victimized or have knowledge of attacks. So this is snowballing.”
“That’s not fair to the rest of the kids that didn’t do anything wrong. Lots of good kids in that school.”
“There is talk amongst the parents that there needs to be a shake up with the administration,” the resident informed. “The school board and coaches and that they need to go. These parents are not backing down this time. This has torn our town apart and kids that aren’t involved in any of this are hurting because it’s taking the whole schools reputation down.”
“The few that did these horrendous things are placing a stigma on the whole school and that’s not fair to the rest of the kids that didn’t do anything wrong. Lots of good kids in that school. Lots of good teachers and coaches. The only way to earn back their reputation is to get rid of the bad ones.”
“Parents and kids need to trust that our leaders are going to protect our kids and do the right thing. Even if it means it will be unpleasant and even if it means some of our football players get in trouble or suspended and can’t play football. Having a winning season should not take precedence over what these victims had to endure. Things need to change. We need people in charge that will do the right thing. We need to get rid of the ones that didn’t!”
“The very nature of the crime and the fact that these are boys being victimized and not wanting anyone to know that they were taken advantage of in that way so choosing to keep it to themselves kind of explains how this has gone on so long. The fact that these kids have been desensitized to what is acceptable behavior is troublesome. The fact that this and other issues have been brought to the attention of school officials and there was nothing done to stop it is appalling.”