Prayer service held in La Vernia in wake of hazing scandal

Nine high school students charged with sexual assault

SAN ANTONIO – A town rocked by scandal is beginning to heal. A large gathering turned out for a prayer service Tuesday evening in La Vernia after nine students were charged with sexual assault.

Police said the suspects are athletes and did the acts while hazing teammates.

About 150 people gathered in a park across from the high school where the arrests happened. Easter eggs they held contained messages of hope for the town of about 1,250 inhabitants.

"I guess, we all feel guilty as parents, you know? I think we all feel guilty that we aren't taking care of our children," said Yvette Bailey, whose son is a junior at La Vernia High School.

The prayer service was organized in part by the Ministerial Alliance, a group of about 10 local churches. There was a heavy emphasis on prayer, faith and music to get the community past the arrests.

One sophomore said he knows both victims and the accused. He said one suspect was a friend but he hasn't talked to him since the allegations surfaced.

"It's definitely not something I would expect from them," the student said. "It lets me down, because I thought he was a lot better as a friend than that."

A freshman agrees that their town can come back from this.

"I think we'll just become closer as a community and family and friends, and we'll just push through this," the freshman said.