LA VERNIA, Texas – A day after two more students were arrested and charged with sexual assault, the town of La Vernia will gather Tuesday evening for a vigil.
Dustin Norman and Robert Olivarez Jr. were arrested on Monday and charged with sexual assault.
With nine arrests now made, the case is taking a toll on the community.
"So when all this broke out, it really hit people hard," said Steven Curry, the pastor at the La Vernia United Methodist Church and also a member of the La Vernia Ministerial Alliance. "People know somebody that's affected, whether it be students, administrators, or teachers."
In response to the investigation and all the people affected, the La Vernia Ministerial Alliance and the La Vernia News are inviting members of the community to a service of prayer and healing at the city park at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night to mourn, to pray and to move forward.
"To get together and cry on each other's shoulders, there will be some time for that at the service," said Curry. "But there's also the message of hope. There's also the chance to get together, to build a better community, to recommit ourselves to make a difference in these kids' lives."
The Ministerial Alliance is made up of 10 churches in the La Vernia area.
"I think it's something that the churches here do really well, that we can gather at a time of crisis," said Bob Palen, the pastor at the Immanuel Lutheran Church La Vernia. "We can be supportive, positive. We can help people move in a positive direction."
Curry said they are asking people to bring a plastic Ester egg and put a message of hope inside. People will exchange it at the service.
"You go home with somebody's message of hope," Curry said. "So, you can see, we'll get past this."
"We feel like the church and our Lord has something to offer at a time of crisis," Palen said. "He said, 'To come to me when you're weary and burdened. I'll give you rest.'"
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