Raymondville police investigate two sexual assault cases involving high school students

RAYMONDVILLE — Police are investigating two cases in which Raymondville High School female students have accused male students of sexual assault.

In one case, a male student apparently remains held at a juvenile detention center.

“We’re not done with the investigations,” Police Chief Uvaldo Zamora said yesterday. “We’re getting statements from witnesses.”

Investigators are also trying to determine whether other students may have been involved, Zamora said.

Zamora said both cases allegedly occurred off-campus.

The cases mark the first two alleged sexual assaults involving students reported to district officials “in several years,” Gustavo Acevedo, the school district’s attorney, said yesterday.

As a result of the most recent case, district officials held a principals’ meeting in which administrators were instructed on legal and policy requirements governing the reporting of such incidents.

Meanwhile, officials plan a presentation aimed at informing high school students about the law governing their “legal responsibilities … in sexual situations.”

“The district understands the seriousness of the allegations and will protect the rights of the accuser while at the same time respecting the accused rights to the presumption of innocence and to due process of law,” Acevedo stated.

In the case of an incident that allegedly occurred Sept. 20, the female student’s allegations were reported to district officials Sept. 25, Acevedo stated.

On Sept. 27, police arrested the male student.

“A 16-year-old female has alleged that a 16-year-old male sexually assaulted her at a party,” Acevedo stated.

“The matter is under criminal investigation by the city police department and the school district administration has been advised by Raymondville city PD that, because the matter is under criminal investigation, the school district administration should refrain from speaking to any of the parties or potential witnesses in the case,” Acevedo stated.

In that case, the 16-year-old male apparently remains held at the Darrell Hester Juvenile Justice Center in San Benito.

“It is the district’s understanding that the student is in detention at the regional juvenile criminal detention facility where he will be released on Wednesday,” Acevedo stated, adding he was not privy to information regarding the students’ release from detention.

District officials plan to hold a hearing to determine whether the student will be suspended.

“As required by law, upon his return to RISD, the district will give the student due process and conduct a hearing to determine if the student should be placed in the school district’s in-school suspension program,” Acevedo stated.

Officials would determine the campus which the student would attend.

“Regardless of the outcome of that hearing, the student will not be allowed to attend the same campus as the accuser until disposition of the criminal matter,” Acevedo stated.

Second sexual assault case

Police are also investigating the case of an adult female student who charged a 17-year-old male student sexually assaulted her while off-campus in May.

In July, police arrested the male student, Acevedo stated.

“The male student denies the allegations,” he stated, adding the student was released the day of his arrest.

“The matter is being investigated by the city police department and the district administration does not have access any of the records related to the criminal investigation,” he stated.

Officials conducted a hearing to determine whether to place the student in the district’s in-school suspension program.

“The school administration, after considering the information available to them, was advised by the district’s legal counsel that a decision on placement should be delayed until a court disposition,” Acevedo stated.

Officials have not determined whether the two male students charged in the two cases will be barred from participation in extracurricular activities.

“Because of federal student privacy laws, I cannot confirm or deny whether either of these students participates in the school district’s athletic program,” Acevedo stated.

District to hold presentation to instruct students

As a result of the latest incident, district officials will hold a high school presentation in which attorney Ryan Solis will “speak to the high school students and inform them about their legal responsibilities as young men and women in sexual situations under Texas law,” Acevedo stated.

“Ryan Solis is a graduate of Raymondville High School, and he is a known and respected attorney in Raymondville,” he stated. “Mr. Solis was available, wanted to assist and he agreed to present.”

Acevedo said the presentation’s date has not been set.