A Texas High School Football Team Allegedly Used Rape as a 'Hazing' Ritual

A Texas High School Football Team Allegedly Used Rape as a 'Hazing' Ritual

In 2017, over a dozen high school students—many of them football and basketball players—were arrested following grotesque allegations of sexual assault of 10 teen boys. The Daily Beast reports that one of the suspects has agreed to a plea deal, successfully avoiding jail time. He’s the fifth, thus far, to do so. Not one of them has received jail time.

According to an affidavit, the then 17-year-old suspect, Robert Olivarez Jr., was accused of holding a 16-year-old boy on a bed and raping him with the threaded end of a carbon-dioxide tank as part of a varsity football initiation. Olivarez pleaded no-contest to a felony charge of unlawful restraint and was sentenced to five years deferred adjudication, which may include probation or community service.

The aftermath of sexual violence has rocked this tiny Texas town of La Vernia where the assault allegedly occurred for years. From the Daily Beast:

[In March 2017], 13 La Vernia High School students—many of them varsity athletes on the football and basketball teams—were arrested over allegations that they sodomized their younger teammates using deodorant bottles, cardboard rods, flashlights, soda bottles, pipes, and baseball bats.
The assaults became so routine, according to mothers of purported victims and court documents, that boys who were promoted to varsity teams began showering with underwear on in an effort to deter their assailants. There was so much ripped, bloody underwear shoved down drains that it clogged the pipes in the locker room, two La Vernia mothers told The Daily Beast in 2017.
In the weeks after the arrests, students at the school, many of them athletes, were calling the victims “rats and snitches,” The Daily Beast previously reported.

In early October, four other teens reportedly pleaded no-contest to felony charges of unlawful restraint and were sentenced to five years probation and 100 hours of community service. The judge called the case a “tragedy of society” and hoped that lessons learned from the school, community, state, and nation.

But the mother of one of the boys who was assaulted found little solace in the judge’s sentence. She told a local San Antonio CBS affiliate, “They should never have the opportunity to wipe this away like it never happened. Our children and their families can’t.”

It’ll be tough to learn any lessons when local outlets—a necessity for amplifying such stories—are reluctant to cover the allegations; and when they do, hesitant to apply the necessary candor, replacing worlds like “rape” with “hazing” and “scandal” in headlines.

Read Daily Beast’s coverage of the La Vernia rape case in full here.

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