H.S. Sports Programs in Va., Okla. Facing Allegations of Sexual Assaults
A high school basketball program in Virginia has been suspended indefinitely amid allegations of a sexual assault involving a 16-year-old boy, while an Oklahoma high school has fired one coach, suspended another, and suspended several junior varsity wrestlers following an alleged sexual assault, according to multiple reports.
In Virginia, Shenandoah County Schools Superintendent Jeremy Raley opted to suspend varsity and junior varsity basketball games for Strasburg High School earlier this month after receiving word of an alleged sexual assault by basketball players, according to Joe Beck of the Northern Virginia Daily. The victim was traveling with the varsity and JV basketball teams on a bus heading back to school following an away game in mid-December, Maj. Scott Proctor of the Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office told Beck, when the alleged assault occurred.
"The Shenandoah County Public Schools received what initially appears to be substantial allegations about physical misconduct among student athletes participating in the basketball program at Strasburg High School," Raley stated in a Jan. 14 press release, per Beck. "... Due to the serious nature of the allegations, and in an effort to preserve the integrity of the fact-finding and review process, the participation of our student athletes in these basketball practices and competitions is being suspended pending further review and until further notice."
According to the sheriff office's website, six boys from the school—three 16-year-olds and three 17-year-olds—were charged Thursday with assault and battery by mob. All six are set to appear in Shenandoah County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court on Feb. 11.
Attorney David Silek, who's representing one of the students allegedly involved in the assault, told Beck it marked the latest in a long line of incidents among student-athletes at Strasburg.
"For years, there's been something called 'lynching' among athletes at Strasburg High School," Silek said. "Basically, they grabbed someone and tussed around with someone. My client, who has been a victim of 'lynching,' is black. Just how do you think that makes a black kid feel?"
In Oklahoma, meanwhile, police continue to investigate "an extremely disturbing report" involving the junior varsity wrestling team from Norman North High School, according to Jane Glenn Cannon of the Oklahoman. While police have not yet released details about the investigation, a source confirmed to Cannon that a 12-year-old boy was allegedly sexually assaulted by older students on a bus returning from a wrestling tournament earlier this month.
Norman district spokeswoman Alesha Leemaster said two students were suspended within hours of the district receiving word of the allegations, while additional students have been placed on suspension as the investigation progresses. The school fired an adjunct coach (who was technically a volunteer, not an employee) and placed a second coach (who is an employee) on suspension pending the results of the investigation.
According to Mason Waldvogel of ABC 8 in Tulsa, police said charges stemming from the alleged incident could be delayed as they continue to interview witnesses. "Investigators expect to present charges to the district attorney's office soon," Waldvogel reported, "but that date wasn't yet known."
Both alleged incidents come in the wake of an alleged hazing assault at a Tennessee high school which resulted in two basketball coaches and the school's assistant principal/athletic director being charged with failure to report suspected child sexual abuse. Three basketball players from Ooltewah High School were likewise charged as a result of the alleged incident. ESPN.com's John Barr published damning details of the allegations on Jan. 21, writing in part:
"One of the 16-year-olds told police that he held his freshman teammate down on the bed by lying across his back, while the other 16-year-old held down his teammate by the hips.
"The 17-year-old then pressed a pool cue against the freshman's clothing with so much force that it broke through the teen's clothing and penetrated his rectum, according to the police report."
All three adults appeared in court Thursday to answer the charges of their failure to report suspected child sexual abuse. According to NewsChannel 9, Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkson plans to subpoena three district officials to testify in preliminary hearings regarding the failure to report the alleged assault.
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