SAN ANTONIO — Note: The following story includes graphic details.
The Alamo Heights Independent School District released a statement Wednesday afternoon responding to anonymous tips regarding "safety concerns and allegations of misconduct by some players on the football team."
Twenty-one of those students have been suspended as a result of the district's investigation, an adult source at the district tells KENS 5. That same source says some of the athletes, the "perpetrators," received two-game suspensions while one-game punishments were handed to victims who "were considered willing participants."
The alleged incident reportedly did not take place on the district's property or during school hours.
KENS 5 learned disturbing details Wednesday from adult sources inside Alamo Heights High School. The sources say all of this stems from a team tradition.
In a message sent to KENS 5, a source says:
"The senior boys did an initiation, where they went out to the baseball fields and made the younger players put cookies dipped in hot sauce between their butt cheeks. Then, they had to race each other, and if any of the cookies fell out the person would have to eat it. They made them do this in an open space completely naked. They then also were throwing hot sauce on some of the players, then at a later party, made some of the freshman get down to their boxers and give lap dances to some cheerleaders."
District officials claim administrators and coaches had no knowledge of any allegations prior to receiving the reports.
"We understand there are rumors circulating in the community and would caution everyone against jumping to conclusions," the district says.
AHISD Athletic Director and head football coach Ron Rittimann said, "We have a responsibility to the young men on our football team that goes well beyond what happens on the field. We celebrate their successes when it’s appropriate to do so, but we also must help them learn from their poor choices. We will move forward as a team and continue the important job in developing the character of these young men.”
San Antonio sports radio host Mike Taylor tweeted on Wednesday morning that the varsity football team has been suspended two games, given in-house suspension and 10 hours community service for hazing.
The Alamo Heights Police Department said they currently have an open investigation involving members of the football team, but did not give any other details.
The Mules' season-opener is still scheduled for Friday at Seguin High School, according to a high school spokesperson. Alamo Heights went 13-1 last season and made it to the state regional finals in class 5A.
Parents in Alamo Heights tell us it's disheartening hearing that this type of conduct is happening. Sarah Jones, who has a child in AHISD, is a member of Alamo Heights Community Alliance. It's a parent group that formed to advocate for the safety of students and teachers.
"We would like to see a zero-tolerance policy enacted for this kind of criminal behavior," said Jones, on behalf of the Alamo Heights Community Alliance.
The group was dismayed to learn about the allegations.
"There are so many of us that do not want to tolerate the way things have been done in this community in the past," said Jones.
Personally, Jones believes the district has worked to improve the bullying situation. She believes the root cause of this type of behavior stems from the top down.
"There's a certain kind of attitude in this community that we can get away with things that people would never get away with in other communities," she explained. "They're getting away with it here because they think they can."
Recent hazing incidents
In June 2019, four former La Vernia high school students were indicted on charges of engaging in organized criminal activity. These charges were the result of an investigation into the sexual assault of multiple students.
The former students were accused of performing "hazing rituals," that started in 2014. Ten victims came forward, according to officials.
Also in 2019, a former Smithson Valley High School student pleaded guilty to putting antifreeze in a classmate's drink. She was also ordered to "write an apology letter...within 90 days of sentencing," by the court.