The rest of the season has been cancelled for the Ooltewah High School boys’ basketball team in the wake of rape charges against its teammates and allegations of a cover up of similar attacks that have taken place in the past.
On December 22, a freshman member of the Ooltewah High School basketball team “was tortured by three of his teammates.” The teen said that three of his older teammates held him down on a bed to rape and assault him in an attack that is being called “hazing.” The rape occurred while the Ooltewah basketball team was in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, for a tournament.
Times Free Press reports that court records indicate that the rape happened when two of the boys held down the freshman while the third, a senior at Ooltewah, used a “pool cue stick and forced it into the rectum and prostate gland [of the victim.]”
The Chattanoogan reports that the teen immediately went to his coach to report the rape and was given medical attention, however, the exam was not thorough and he had to undergo emergency surgery the next day. A family member said that the rape caused horrifying injuries to the teen.
“He was not given a proper exam and collapsed the following day. Once he collapsed, he was taken by ambulance to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville. He had to undergo emergency surgery, as his colon and bladder were ruptured.”
When the incident was reported, the three juveniles responsible for the rape were immediately dismissed from the Ooltewah basketball team. The boys are being charged with aggravated rape and assault, and the victim’s family has begun a petition to have the teens charged as adults for this horrific crime.
Meanwhile, Hamilton County Superintendent Rick Smith has cancelled the rest of the season for the Ooltewah High School basketball team. According to CNN, the decision was made to aid the criminal investigation into the rape. Another report by the Chattanoogan says that Smith indicated that there was “no wrong-doing” on the part of any adult involved in the case, though the family says that the coaching staff was notified of abuse before the incident took place.
“This decision is not a reflection upon the coaching staff. Indeed, law enforcement officials have to date found no evidence any adult acted improperly.”
The rape itself is enough to cause shock and disgust, but the Ooltewah community is angry for much more than that. The school board is facing accusations of a cover up while it investigates what happened on December 22. According to the victim’s family, the victim reported abuse from his teammates prior to the rape, but his reports were ignored by the coaching staff of Ooltewah. Apparently, there has been “an ongoing pattern of assaults allegedly committed under the guise of hazing” at Ooltewah High School.
According to WRCB, senior members of the Ooltewah basketball team have told their younger teammates that they have to be “beaten in” and that the “ritual…must be done.”
Reportedly, the district attorney for the Tennessee community is investigating into whether or not this type of abuse has happened before. School Board Chairman Jonathan Welch indicated that he has received emails from members of the community who are also concerned with a cover up. They express the concern that any discoveries made of other freshmen being assaulted by seniors will be “swept under the rug.”
It has been reported that the victim will no longer be attending Ooltewah High School once he recovers from his injuries.
The court date for the three juveniles charged for aggravated rape and aggravated assault is set for January 26.
[Photo via Ooltewah High School]