School officials allegedly knew about the criminal hazing going on at a Texas high school but did nothing to protect the students.
La Vernia High School varsity basketball players Colton Weidner, Christian “Brock” Roberts, and John Rutkowski, all 18, were arrested on sexual assault charges April 11, The Daily Beast reports.
They were arrested for holding down a 15-year-old boy and forcing a flashlight into his rectum. Further investigation revealed this may have been one of many hazing cases taking place at the high school.
Dozens of students have since come forward, accusing other basketball players of hazing activities involving sexual assault. So far, 13 students, almost half of them adults, have been arrested.
“Kids were holding them down in the locker rooms, there was a lookout at the door watching for coaches not to come,” one victim recalls. “They hold them down and stick various items up their rectum … including Coke bottles, deodorant bottles, steel pipes, baseball bats, and broomsticks.”
It seems students aren’t the only ones in trouble — school officials may now face punishment, too.
A federal lawsuit, also filed on April 11, alleges the school officials knew about the hazing while it was happening.
School coaches reportedly “sanctioned these rituals” while other school officials “turned a blind eye toward the abuse, even after the abuse was reported to them,” the complaint reveals.
Some coaches and teachers allegedly spoke out, but none of them reportedly contacted authorities, presumably out of fear.
“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,'” alleges the lawsuit, the San Antonio Current reports.
After another athlete forced a Gatorade bottle up a student’s anus, Athletic director Brandon Layne, who worked for the school for just a year, also spoke out.
“You won’t be able to get a job, no girl will want to date you, and you could go to prison,” Layne allegedly said. He is reportedly responsible for mandating that a coach supervise the locker room at all times.
Yet despite the intervention, the basketball players continued to assault the same student multiple times. At one point, three boys reportedly sexually assaulted him with a cardboard tube from a coat hanger in the “supervised” locker room.
Attorney J.K. Ivey, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of school parents, calls it “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.”
He believes further investigation will reveal “a pattern of deliberate neglect covering many years.”