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

By Josh Skurnik - Reporter

LA VERNIA, Texas - With 13 students charged in the La Vernia High School hazing case, a lawyer for one of the accused said his client is a victim as well.

Lawyer Alfonso Cabanas said 18-year-old Dustin Norman, once a senior football player at La Vernia high school, is innocent of the sexual assault charge, and is a good student.

"There [were] never any students who came out, and said, 'Hey I feel threatened by Norman. I feel that my safety is in danger,’" Cabanas said.

Cabanas didn't say what Norman told him the athlete saw or knew, only that he had no part in it.

The arrest documents said before a team dinner in March, Norman and three others pinned down a 16-year-old who had just made the varsity football team. The documents said the victim was sexually assaulted with the threaded end of a CO2 tank.

"The fact that this is a mere allegation, you have to remember he is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt," Cabanas said.

On March 31, Norman had an administrative hearing before the La Vernia ISD human resources director, who expelled him based on their code of conduct.

Norman does not have a criminal trial date set yet. Cabanas said the school district's hearing was inherently biased and unfair.

"The designated officer had her mind made up because of the publicity that this event was gathering," Cabanas said.

Cabanas said he wanted the district to wait for a criminal decision.

Norman now attends an alternative school, which Cabanas describes as "military-style" education.

Cabanas filed an appeal of the district's decision the first week of April and said he's had no response.

District Superintendent Jose Moreno said in a statement: "La Vernia ISD understands that the outcomes of the hearing process may be difficult at times. I can assure you that due process is given to all students that aligns with the Student Code of Conduct, Board Policy, and the law."

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