9 Texas high schoolers charged with sex assault in hazing

LA VERNIA, Texas (AP) Nine Texas high school students are charged with sexual assault in a hazing scandal involving athletes, police said Monday.

Seven juveniles and two adults are charged with allegations dating back as far as 2014, La Vernia police Chief Bruce Ritchey said. All nine have at some point been athletes at La Vernia High School, which has about 1,000 students. Ritchey said the hazing primarily involved the football team, but the basketball and baseball teams were also involved to a lesser degree.

Ritchey declined to release the names of any of those charged. He said the juveniles were arrested last week and have been released to their parents. The adults were arrested Monday and were being booked into the Wilson County Jail in Floresville. Ritchey declined to specify the nature of the sexual assaults alleged.

Ritchey also said several ''persons of interest'' remain under investigation, but he declined to say how many or whether they are past or present students.

The allegations have rocked the farming town of about 1,000 residents situated about 20 miles east of San Antonio. Students from surrounding communities attend the high school.

''The travesty of the events occurring at the La Vernia High School have crushed the spirit of our community,'' School Superintendent Jose Moreno wrote in a posting on the La Vernia Independent School District's Facebook page. He pledged that the high school's administration and athletic directors ''are implementing additional protocols to provide students a clear path of communication to report a concern, receive counseling and know that their voices will be heard while maintaining their privacy.''

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