An investigation of the December 2015 rape of a male high school basketball player in Ooltewah, Tennessee uncovered evidence that suggests the team’s coach and his wife tried to cover up the incident, while suggesting that the attack occurred due to a lack of adult supervision and a culture at the school that supports assault, hazing, and bullying.
The incident in question occurred in December 2015, when it was reported that three upperclassmen had repeatedly assaulted four freshmen on the basketball team, beating and raping them with pool cues. One of the players was critically injured as a result and required emergency surgery for the damage he suffered to his colon and bladder.
The attacks were kept quiet until the following week when the former step-father of the injured boy alerted the media, writes Dan Henry for The Times Free Press.
Conducted by the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office and the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, the investigation also concluded that four freshmen students, not just one, had been assaulted over the course of the three-day trip to a basketball tournament in Gatlinburg.
“From the moment the basketball coaches drove the team out of town without (school) Board approval, the system failed,” the report, put together by District Attorney General Neal Pinkston, stated. “The lackadaisical mindset is not limited to OHS leadership,” he added.
Pinkston went on to say that the school was at fault for not responding to the incident in a proper manner in the following hours and days.
The report also discussed Andre Montgomery, the team’s coach, and his wife, saying the pair “attempted to cover up the crimes, failed to preserve evidence and told players to not discuss the incident with their parents.”
It went on to say that the unnamed wife had thrown out the clothing of the injured player and cleaned the area where the crime occurred in an attempt to erase any evidence of the crime.
A number of recommendations were written out for the school to implement by Pinkston, including bolstering their policies and penalties, as well as increasing the amount of mandatory reporter training and creating a “crisis plan.”
In addition, he said better support needed to be offered to students throughout the district and the lack of accountability needed to be addressed. He also suggested the district partner with the Children’s Advocacy Center.
Discussing the culture of rape at the school, the report noted that former students who had been interviewed discussed the hazing that went on, saying it typically involved turning the lights off in the locker room, grabbing a player and punching him all over his body. One former student said the coaches were “fully aware of what was going on and in some ways encouraged what was happening.”
Three former high school players have since been charged with rape for the crimes. Athletic Director Allard Nayadley and former Ooltewah basketball coaches Andre Montgomery and assistant coach Karl Williams have all been charged in Hamilton Country with failing to report the rape.
While all three former players were found guilty, two were convicted on reduced charges. Meanwhile, Montgomery was found not guilty, Nayadley accepted pre-trial diversion, and all charges against Williams were dropped.