Sports teach character, or so the saying goes.
Credit: George Mathis
Credit: George Mathis
Sometimes they teach us schools don't police their players.
In Tennessee, high school basketball players are accused of sodomizing freshman teammates with pool sticks during an overnight trip.
The Daily Beast provides a loosely sourced story with sordid details, but it seems to be solid fact one freshman player was hospitalized with injuries and three of his teammates were arrested on rape and assault charges. The suspects are not named because they are juveniles.
A local TV station reports Ooltewah High School coach Andre "Tank" Montgomery, assistant coach Karl Williams and athletic director Allard J. Nayadley are accused of failing to report child the sexual abuse of four athletes. State law in Tennessee (and Georgia) requires school staff report suspected abuse.
The victims reported being physically beaten to their coach, and, in seeming retaliation, were later sodomized with pool cues during a road trip to a tournament in Gatlinburg in late December, reports say.
Investigators say Montgomery, Williams, and Nayadley did not report the alleged rapes to Department of Children's Services or law enforcement. Hospital staff who treated a boy who reportedly had a pool cue tip broken off in his anus reported the injuries to police. That victim suffers from a ruptured colon, and a punctured bladder and prostate, The Daily Beast reports.
After the alleged incident, the basketball team kept playing games in the Gatlinburg tournament.
Superintendent Rick Smith says his staff reported the incident to him the day afterwards but did not suspend the staff members until the allegation became public because he did not have all the details.
Students at the school in a "wealthier" suburb of Chattanooga are trying to get "Coach T", who has been assigned a non-teaching position, his coaching job back.
"He's one of the best coaches, he's one of the best teachers," said one student. "He cares for all of his students. I think we all need him here."
What happened in a cabin in Gatlinburg is not the coach's fault, a student said.
"They [the accused rapists] are also 16 and 17 year olds. I mean, we know how to act and what to do so I think they [the athletes] should be held responsible."
Concerned parents packed a school board meeting last night. One mother told board members her son was beaten on a school bus and left with a brain injury.
Hamilton County's chief prosecutor is investigating whether there's an "ingrained culture of violence" among the school's basketball and football teams.
Meanwhile, the school has deleted the team from its website.
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