Source: Player convicted of raping teammate set for release

(Courtesy: WATE)
(Courtesy: WATE)

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee high school basketball player convicted of aggravated rape of a freshman teammate will be released from custody next month, a person familiar with the case said Tuesday.

The person said the player, who was convicted as a juvenile and has been in custody since December of last year, will be released Nov. 21. Two other Ooltewah High School players convicted on juvenile aggravated assault charges were sentenced to 60 days in custody in addition to the 50 days they have already served.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Tuesday’s sentencing was closed to the public and no ruling was announced immediately afterward. The players’ names haven’t been released because they were in juvenile court.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press first reported the information.

Police said three members of last year’s Ooltewah team assaulted a freshman teammate Dec. 22 with a pool cue. The incident occurred when the team from the Chattanooga area was playing in a tournament about 150 miles away in the resort town of Gatlinburg.

Gatlinburg police charged three players with the rape of one teammate, though the Hamilton County district attorney’s office has indicated four freshman players were assaulted during that trip. Ooltewah High School is in Hamilton County; Gatlinburg is in Sevier County.

Prosecutors in March unsuccessfully attempted to have one of the three defendants tried as an adult. On Aug. 30, one player was convicted in juvenile court of aggravated rape and aggravated assault; the two others were found guilty only of aggravated assault.

One of the victims filed suit on Sept. 9 against his former coach, the former vice principal and athletic director, the former principal and the Hamilton County Board of Education, accusing them of knowingly ignoring the abuse of athletes.

An investigation launched by the Hamilton County district attorney’s office and sheriff’s office after the Dec. 22 incident revealed “widespread, systemic problems going unaddressed at every level” in the county’s public schools. Their report, which was released in September, says “permissive coaches” and “an apathetic administration” allowed a culture of bullying to spread in the county.

The report found that neither Ooltewah High officials nor central office administrators at Hamilton County acknowledged the seriousness of the Dec. 22 case. The report also said “there is no indication” that Rick Smith, the Hamilton County schools superintendent at the time, took his duty to manage the situation seriously. Smith has since stepped down.

A separate investigation commissioned by Hamilton County officials showed Ooltewah’s basketball team had a “culture of hazing and bullying” even before the Dec. 22 incident. But the investigation also said there was “no evidence” that Hamilton County school officials or Ooltewah High administrators knew or should have known such an incident would occur.

Andre Montgomery, who coached Ooltewah’s team at the time, was indicted by Hamilton County officials in May on four counts of failing to report child sexual abuse.

Allard Nayadley, an assistant principal at the time, also faced charges in Hamilton County of failing to report child sexual abuse but entered a pre-trial diversion program in May. If he complies with terms of that program, which include performing community service and taking a class on mandatory reporting, the charges can be removed from his record.

Similar charges against former Ooltewah assistant coach Karl Williams were dropped in May.

Also, Rodney Burns, the Gatlinburg detective who handled the rape investigation, faces aggravated perjury charges in Hamilton County regarding his testimony during a preliminary hearing for Montgomery, Nayadley and Williams.