An alleged sexual assault and hazing scandal has shaken up the town of La Vernia. Reportedly involving members of the high school's varsity football, baseball, and basketball programs, the saga has landed nine students in jail.
Authorities tell KENS 5 there could be more arrests ahead.
Locals said the city is working hard to heal from this. At 7 p.m. Tuesday, the La Vernia Ministerial Alliance and the La Vernia Newspaper held a service of hope and healing inside the gazebo at La Vernia City Park.
Students told KENS 5 they will not let the scandal define them.
"Not every person at La Vernia High School is that disgusting and sick," one La Vernia High School student said.
A senior at La Vernia High School spoke with KENS 5 anonymously.
"People look at La Vernia like, 'Oh, that's the school where they have that sexual assault case going on'," he said.
The student said conversations on campus the past few days revolve around the arrest of his peers.
"Well, calling it hazing is being more nonchalant about it," he said.
La Vernia police arrested two more students on campus Monday, following seven students taken into custody last week.
Students told us the sexual assaults involved baseball bats, deodorant sticks, and metal rods found inside the locker room.
To prevent adults from catching the crime, we're told another student watched the door.
"That level is shocking because it's stuff you hear about in prison," the student said. "You don't hear about that in a high school."
Pastor Steve Curry of the La Vernia United Methodist Church will lead the service Tuesday night, accompanied by nine other local churches.
"Give the community a time to, first of all, lament what's happened," Curry said. "The loss of innocence, the crimes that have taken place."
Curry said there's no way to move forward without doing so as a community.
"When talking to the youth around here, there's a sense of anger that nothing has happened," he said. "That's allowed this to happen. There's a sense of shock among parents."
Students agree. The La Vernia senior hopes future classes of La Vernia High School will not be discouraged by recent events.
"When you join sports, you do it because maybe you want to be a professional athlete," he said. "It's discouraging for them to think that, 'I shouldn't go after my dream because of a couple of rotten apples in high school'."
Those attending Tuesday evening's service were encouraged to bring easter eggs filled with a positive, encouraging note. The eggs were exchanged at the service.
La Vernia Police Chief, Bruce Ritchey, said they are still investigating and they anticipate more arrests in the near future.