Indictments: Flashlight, shampoo bottle used in La Vernia HS sex assaults

4 former students indicted Friday

By Mariah Medina - Digital Journalist

LA VERNIA, Texas - Four former La Vernia High School students previously charged with sexual assault in connection with an athletics hazing scandal exposed in 2017 have now been indicted on new charges more than two years later.

Alejandro Ibarra, Colton Weidner, Christian Roberts and Dustin Norman were indicted Friday by a grand jury in Wilson County on charges of engaging in organized criminal activity, a spokeswoman for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton confirmed via phone Tuesday morning.

Norman's indictment state he "attempted to cause the penetration of a (juvenile's) anus" with a cardboard rod and shampoo bottle on separate occasions and that he also attempted to put a CO2 air bottle into a child's anus.

Ibarra's indictment state he also tried to place a cardboard rod, a shampoo bottle and a CO2 air bottle into the anuses of juveniles in three separate incidents.

Roberts' and Weidner's indictments state that they victimized four different students in six different incidents. The indictments allege that they held a juvenile down and tried to place a finger into the victim's anus, and in one instance, attempted to penetrate a juvenile with "an unknown object and/or a flashlight."

According to the indictments, Norman, Ibarra and an unnamed juvenile defendant worked together to "conspire to commit sexual assault." Another indictment states that Roberts, Weidner and an unnamed juvenile also conspired to commit sexual assault.

READ THE INDICTMENTS

Paxton's office and the Texas Rangers became involved shortly after a student made an outcry of hazing involving high school student-athletes as local law enforcement sought to avoid a conflict of interest.

The town's police chief previously told KSAT that the allegations date back to 2014 but that the district only learned of them in 2017.

Ibarra, Weidner, Roberts and Norman are among at least 13 students charged in connection with the alleged hazing.

The school district on Tuesday said in part, "Due to the sensitive nature of the allegations, as well as federal law protecting all students’ privacy rights, the District cannot and will not comment regarding the alleged involvement of any student athlete."

READ THE FULL STATEMENT

Civil lawsuits filed in the aftermath of the arrests shed further light on the horrifying nature of the hazing ring.

One lawsuit filed early last year alleges that La Vernia Independent School District failed to investigate the repeated sexual assault of a student.

According to the lawsuit, the alleged victim, identified under the pseudonym of "John Doe," was sexually assaulted by his La Vernia High School basketball teammates "over 30 times" over a period of five months beginning in October 2016.

The lawsuit, filed Jan. 23, 2018, alleges a coach was aware of at least two of the sexual assaults but did nothing.

In one of the incidents, Doe was getting ready in an opponent's locker room before a game when two of his teammates subdued him, and groped and sexually assaulted him. Doe said he remembers "screaming and yelling as loud as he could," and when he returned to the court after the assault, he was met by laughing teammates and one of his coaches.

"It was clear (the coach) heard the screaming and yelling," the lawsuit claims. "(The coach), however, ignored the assault and did nothing."

In another incident, Doe claims he was sexually assaulted by upperclassmen in the La Vernia High School locker room and that a coach was present. 

The complaint states that the coach saw the assault and unwanted advances and "walked away and allowed such sexual assault to continue."

According to the lawsuit, the assaults continued to the point where Doe began showering with his underwear on to help deter or prevent future sexual assaults.

A separate federal lawsuit filed against the district mounts similar allegations against La Vernia ISD.

At least 13 students were arrested in March and April of 2017 and charged with sexual assault following an investigation into alleged student-on-student sexual assaults dating back to 2014.

In May 2017, the district announced it would investigate if any teachers or coaches should also be held responsible.

In November 2017, La Vernia ISD Superintendent Jose Moreno resigned. Moreno was be paid more than $89,000 as part of a separation agreement, according to records released by the district.

Moreno was succeeded by Trent Lovette. Lovette was placed on paid administrative leave late last year and was later reinstated. 

CONTINUING COVERAGE ON KSAT.COM

Lawsuit: La Vernia ISD coach ignored screams of student as teammates sexually assaulted him 

Several La Vernia High School students arrested on sex assault charges 

Changes coming to La Vernia ISD after 13 students arrested for sexual assault 

La Vernia ISD school board votes to uphold expulsion of 2 students accused in sex assault case 

Texas Rangers take over La Vernia HS sex assault scandal case 

Federal lawsuit filed in La Vernia hazing case 

Here's what we know about the La Vernia hazing lawsuit 

Lawyer of student accused in La Vernia hazing case says client is 'victim' 

Civil case over alleged hazing at La Vernia ISD postponed 

La Vernia ISD, amid investigation, has first day of school 

La Vernia ISD to pay former superintendent $89K settlement 

 

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