Nine Texas high school athletes were charged with committing sexual assault during a hazing ritual, police told the Associated Press.
Seven of the accused La Vernia High School students are juveniles, and two are legally adults, police said. Most were or are on the football team, though La Vernia police Chief Bruce Ritchey said the basketball and baseball teams were also involved.
Ritchey claimed that the sexual assault allegations go as far back as 2014, but he would not disclose specific allegations against the students or release their names.
"It's a black eye for the city," Ritchey told The San Antonio Express-News. "What I'm concerned with right now is providing the help and healing for those victimized."
Two of the suspects were arrested on Monday, after seven students were arrested on Mar. 23, reported a local news station.
“The travesty of the events occurring at the La Vernia High School has crushed the spirit of our community,” said La Vernia Superintendent José Moreno in a long Facebook post. “Our most valued beings, our children, are the reason that we live and serve in La Vernia.”
Moreno then pointed to the school's athletics record as a defense of the high school.
“Be proud to let [the media] know that just this past week our Bears and Lady Bears soccer teams defeated their opponents in the first round of playoffs,” said Moreno. “Let them know that the Bears and Lady Bears baseball and softball teams celebrated another great win last Friday night. Let them know that we had 17 Regional Qualifiers at the District UIL Academic Meet.”
As a reminder, the baseball team the superintendent mentions here is connected to the assaults.
[Image: La Vernia ISD/Facebook]