Federal lawsuit filed in Texas high school hazing investigation involving student-athletes

(La Vernia ISD)

A federal lawsuit has been filed in the Southern District of Texas, San Antonio Division in the hazing/sexual assault investigation involving La Vernia student-athletes.

Parents of an anonymous La Vernia High School football player filed the lawsuit on Thursday. They are seeking injunctive relief and monetary damages for the "sodomization as part of a team 'initiation' allegedly known about by administrators and coaches in the La Vernia Independent School District," according to a news release from the family's lawyer.

The lawsuit is seeking damages for violations of civil rights as well as the 4th and 14th Amendments of the Constitution.

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The press release lists the following allegations:

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.

The lawsuits says "rape culture" has dominated the La Vernia High School's football team for about 10 years involving harassment including hazing, bullying, physical and sexual abuse.

The victim is described as a 15-year-old student who had advanced to the varsity team during his freshman year in 2015. Upon making the team, the victim was told to "get ready" by a couple of upperclassmen. The lawsuit says the victim had heard about varsity football "initiation."

The first incident happened during the first week of playoffs at Zapata High School, according to the lawsuit. The victim was approached by three upperclassmen in the locker room before the game and was forcibly held down while the players sexually abused him with a Gatorade bottle through his clothing. The victim yelled for the players to get away from him.

MORE | Police make 2 more arrests in La Vernia High School hazing scandal

In 2016, the victim was attacked again when three seniors forcibly held him down and sexually abused him with another inanimate object, according to the lawsuit. The attackers allegedly told the victim, "new year, new initiation."

The lawsuit names several La Vernia Independent School District employees including Superintendent Dr. Jose H. Moreno, Principal Kristen Martin, former Athletic Director and Head Coach Brandon Layne, Athletic Director Richard Hinojosa, Athletic Director Chris Taber, Head Coach Scott Grub, and Coach Keith Barnes.

The lawsuit says the school district did not comply with Texas state law, which requires that such incidents or suspicion of such incidents be reported within 48 hours to authorities.

The family is asking for anyone with information regarding the hazing rituals to contact their attorneys.

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