Texas Rangers take over La Vernia HS sex assault scandal case

District superintendent speaks publicly for first time Monday

By Josh Skurnik - Reporter

LA VERNIA, Texas - Speaking before parents in a packed cafeteria, the superintendent of La Vernia Independent School District vowed to get to the bottom of the sexual assault scandal that has rocked the small town.

For the 130 people in the room, it was the first time they got to hear Dr. Jose Moreno speak publicly since the arrests of the students.

Members of the community also learned that the Texas Rangers will take over criminal investigation, while the Texas Attorney General will handle the criminal prosecution. Audry Gosset Louis, the Wilson County district attorney, said that was to avoid a conflict of interest.

RELATED: Several La Vernia High School students arrested on sex assault charges     

The town's police chief said the allegations go back to 2014, but Moreno said the district only learned of them this year.

"As a school district we took immediate action once we found out," Moreno said.

The superintendent said he was speaking publicly against the advice of the police chief and district attorney.

In the past two weeks, 10 student athletes from La Vernia High School have been arrested and charged with sexual assault for alleged sex crimes committed while hazing fellow teammates.

The parent of two children enrolled in district schools, Steven McNeill, said he wanted to hear more from Moreno.

RELATED: Prayer service held in La Vernia in wake of hazing scandal

"I wanted to hear what happened,” McNeill said. “I wanted to hear pretty much the words 'alleged sexual assault,' but he hadn't said that anywhere yet."

Moreno said because the investigation is ongoing, there is a lot of detail he could not go into.

He also said he would work with staff and teachers to make sure there is a sense of normalcy at the high school.

As for the accused, they will have hearings before the district to see if they can remain in school or will be expelled. While those hearing are happening, they are not enrolled in school. 

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