The family of an unnamed student-athlete from La Vernia High School filed a federal lawsuit Thursday, seeking damages for violations of civil rights, as well as constitutional rights outlined in the fourth and 14th amendments.
The lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of Texas, San Antonio Division, accuses several administrators and staff members of the La Vernia Independent School District of violating Texas state law through failure to report suspicious incidents of hazing and sexual assault.
The suit claims that a pervading rape culture has been evident among the La Vernia football team over the past 10 years, manifesting in harassment, bullying and physical and sexual abuse, but was overlooked by coaches, athletic directors and administrators alike.
The anonymous victim, a 15-year-old freshman when he made the varsity football team in 2015, was allegedly held down and abused by upperclassmen as part of an initiation ritual. The lawsuit further alleges that the process was repeated in 2016, with senior teammates telling the victim “New year, new initiation,” according to FOX29.
In a press release, a lawyer representing the victim’s family wrote that the team’s coaches “sanctioned” the rituals, while other officials “turned a blind eye.” The release further states that the victim is only a representative case.
“Indeed, the Plaintiffs are but a fraction of the students who have been physically and sexually assaulted pursuant to these sadistic hazing rituals which include rape, sodomy, unlawful sexual penetration, and sexual abuse,” the statement reads.
In addition to monetary damages, the plaintiffs are petitioning the courts for injunctive relief that will put a stop to like rituals in La Vernia schools.