La Vernia ISD federal lawsuit claims ‘rape, sodomy, unlawful sexual penetration, and sexual abuse’

La Vernia High School (LVISD Facebook)

La Vernia water tower (J.Dennis)

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9:40 pm update: NEWS LEGIT has received confirmation that three more La Vernia High School students were arrested by the local police department on Tuesday. La Vernia police, with the coordination of the Texas Rangers participated in the investigation and arrests.  At least one of the three is 18 according to a reliable source. NEWS LEGIT will not release the names of the suspects until official confirmation of all of their ages is provided. Other reports indicate some of the victims were children of school district employees, including educators. 

 

A federal lawsuit was in the Southern District Court of Texas Thursday against La Vernia Independent School District administrators and coaches on behalf of one of the victims in the sexual assault cases that has resulted in the arrest of at least 10 students, according to Certified Injury Attorney J.K. Ivey.

Ivey said the suit, filed by the victim’s parents, is “the first step in an effort to peel back the covers on a long and sordid history of neglect, misconduct, and abuse at La Vernia High School involving dozens of children over a decade or more.”

Superintendent Jose Moreno, La Vernia High School Principal Kristen Martin, La Vernia High School Athletic directors Brandon Layne and Richard Hinojosa, coaches Chris Taber, Scott Grub and Keith Barnes were specifically named in the lawsuit.

“…seeking injunctive relief and monetary damages arising from their son’s sodomization as part of a team ‘initiation’ ritual, allegedly known about by administrators and coaches in the La Vernia Independent School District.”

KENS5 Eyewitness News was able to post a copy of the lawsuit, “JOHN AND JANE DOE, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS NEXT OF FRIENDS OF CHILD DOE, A MINOR VS.” the individuals listed above. “PLANTIFFS DEMAND A TRIAL JURY.”

The complaint filed indicate the family is “seeking injunctive relief and monetary damages arising from their son’s sodomization as part of a team ‘initiation’ ritual, allegedly known about by administrators and coaches in the La Vernia Independent School District.”

The “DOE” family alleges that “CHILD DOE” was initially assaulted after being elevated to the varsity football team in 2015. According to the lawsuit, seniors on the team approached the then 15-year-old freshman to threaten him with an “initiation.” Before a playoff game, upperclassmen held him facedown on the locker room floor. “An upperclassmen then grabbed a Gatorade G2 bottle, and pushed it into CHILD DOE’s anus over his shorts,” the lawsuit states.

According to the family, one week later the attack was known by school officials. “In class, a teacher advised the students that she had heard about the assault and told the class that ‘it was wrong’ and to ‘cut it out.’” the lawsuit alleges. The family alleges the teacher told the student she’d even emailed athletic director and head football coach Brandon Layne about the “initiation.”

In a locker-room chat, Layne gave the varsity squad a talking to, saying, “You won’t be able to get a job, no girl will want to date you and you could go to prison… cut it out,” is how Layne addressed the varsity team about their abuse in the locker room.

Two weeks later upperclassmen grabbed the student before practice again, according to the lawsuit. They slammed him onto the locker room floor and “punched and fondled” while he fought them off. Two weeks later, he was attacked again before practice.

During the beginning of the fall 2016 football season, CHILD DOE was once again attacked by teammates in the locker room. “As he was forcibly held down by two of them, the third took a cardboard tube from a coat hanger and pushed it into CHILD DOE’s anus,” the lawsuit claims. The teammates continued laughing as they told him, “New year, new initiation.”

“You won’t be able to get a job, no girl will want to date you and you could go to prison… cut it out.”

A few weeks later he rolled under a bench to prevent another assault. He remained under the bench until the perpetrators gave up on the “initiation.” Another few weeks went by when a senior teammate threatened to rape him with a metal pipe until a coach walked in, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit seeks damages for civil rights violations.

Other allegations included in the lawsuit include:

“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.

Indeed, the Plaintiffs are but a fraction of the students who have been physically and sexually assaulted pursuant to these sadistic hazing rituals which include rape, sodomy, unlawful sexual penetration, and sexual abuse. In addition to seeking damages to compensate Plaintiffs for their psychological injuries, CHILD DOE, who still attends the School, also seek injunctive relief that will put an end to the hazing rituals, so that neither they nor future members of the School’s football team will be subjected to the same abuses Plaintiffs have suffered.”

…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 hazing scandal that has rocked small town of 1,250, located about 30 minutes from southeast San Antonio resulted in the arrest of 10 students who were charged with sexual assault of more than 20 victims. Of the 10 students arrested, seven of them are juveniles.

Local police have been handling the cases with the the Texas Rangers who are now leading investigative efforts. (La Vernia)

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 office campus home and sexually assaulted him with the threaded end of a CO2 air tanks.

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.”

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.

Community members may be concerned their child may have been a victim. Some signs to watch for, particularly in adolescent victims, according to stopitnow.org:

•Changes in behavior

•Nightmares or other sleep problems

•Depression, anxiety

•Suicide attempts

•Self-injury, such as cutting or burning

•Running away from home

•Alcohol or drug abuse

•Inadequate personal hygiene.

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