Four men have been indicted by a Wilson County grand jury in the sexual-assault and bullying case that ripped apart a small town in Texas more than two years ago, officials confirmed to The Daily Beast on Monday.
The scandal—which involved the alleged sexual abuse of at least 10 victims by varsity athletes in the football, baseball, and basketball programs—roiled the 1,200-person town of La Vernia, a bedroom community about 30 miles outside of San Antonio.
Alejandro Ibarra, Dustin Norman, Colton Weidner, and Christian “Brock” Roberts—all 20 years old—were each indicted Friday on charges of engaging in organized criminal activity, said a spokesperson for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office.
Officials said they were not yet able to provide more details about the indictments.
Norman, Weidner, Roberts, and Ibarra were among the 13 students who were arrested in March 2017 and accused of sodomizing younger teammates with flashlights, baseball bats, and carbon-dioxide tanks while they were in high school. At the time, the young men were charged with either sexual assault or sexual assault of a child.
The aftermath of the crimes sent shockwaves through the school district, local churches, and even a local grocery chain, as victims and their alleged assailants continued to live in the community together while the two-year investigation slowly drummed on.
All of the suspects have repeatedly denied their involvement in the alleged crimes.
San Antonio Attorney Alfonso Cabanas, who represents Norman, told The Daily Beast on Monday he was “very disappointed that the state decided to pursue an indictment” against his client.
“These allegations against Dustin have no merit and have done nothing more than continue to ruin an innocent person’s life,” Cabanas said. “I look forward to defending Dustin in a court of law.”
At least two families filed lawsuits against the school district, including one in Jan. 2018 that claimed a teenage basketball player, identified only as John Doe, was sexually assaulted more than 30 times between Oct. 2016 and Feb. 2017 in multiple locations, including during basketball practice, in the La Vernia High School locker room, at teammates’ homes, in a shower at the school, at other schools’ gyms, and before and after basketball games.
That lawsuit claimed that a La Vernia coach ignored at least two violent assaults that traumatized their son, including one where he was allegedly sexually assaulted with his teammate’s fingers while Doe was “screaming and yelling as loud as he could.”
Afterward, the coach was allegedly standing outside the room and “it was clear [the coach] heard the screaming and yelling,” but “ignored the assault and did nothing,” according to that lawsuit.
The same coach “observed” another assault and “walked away and allowed such sexual assault to continue,” the complaint alleges.
The Daily Beast reported in August that boys who were promoted to the varsity teams were afraid to shower in the locker room naked over fear that they would be assaulted, their mothers said. The 2018 lawsuit confirmed that report, when John Doe alleged that he began “having to shower with his underwear on to help deter and/or prevent future sexual assaults.”
Those La Vernia mothers told The Daily Beast nearly a year earlier that, according to their sons, there were so many pairs of underwear torn off and stuffed down the drains during the assaults that it clogged the pipes in the locker room.
Another civil lawsuit filed against the district in April 2017 alleged that coaches at the school “sanctioned these rituals” and that other school officials “turned a blind eye toward the abuse, even after the abuse was reported to them.”
The two cases against La Vernia Independent School District have since been consolidated, federal court records show, and are expected to go to trial in February 2020.
A spokesman for the school district, Jordan Zeimer, released a statement on Monday to The Daily Beast acknowledging their cooperation with the Texas Rangers in the course of the investigation and noting that the district is not aware “of what criminal charges have been or may be filed, nor of the identity of any persons who have been charged—except as prior arrests were reported in the media. LVISD will continue to diligently cooperate with law enforcement authorities at all times.”
Former Superintendent Jose Moreno, who was heavily criticized for his handling of the alleged crimes, resigned in Nov. 2017. He now works as the superintendent of Robstown Independent School District.