Varsity Basketball Players Raped Teammate and School
Let Team Keep Playing
When a freshman reported
hazing, bullies got him back with a vicious attack involving a pool cue. The
school called it a ‘violation of team policy.’
Editor's Note: This story
has been updated to reflect new charges filed against the
When a high school
basketball player told his coach he was being bullied, his tormentors retaliated
by brutally raping him with a pool cue.
While the freshman lay
bleeding in the hospital and the three bullies sat behind bars, the Ooltewah,
Tennessee, high school varsity basketball team kept playing. Despite the fact
their coach drove the victim to the hospital and the school said it was
investigating, the team wasn’t sanctioned. Instead, it was allowed to play three
more games before the season was canceled. On Thursday afternoon, the coaches
and the school’s athletic director were charged and may join their players
“Coach [Andre] Montgomery
is culpable and so is the assistant coach, Karl Williams,” a source close to the
investigation told The Daily Beast. “This doesn’t stop with the
It started in December
when the team traveled three hours from Ooltewah to desolate Gatlinburg for a
tournament. Some time on the afternoon of Dec. 22, Montgomery and Williams left
the kids unsupervised.
“That’s when the first
round of the attacks happened,” the source said. “The coaches left the kids for
two hours to go grocery shopping. How do you expect the house to be standing
after being left alone for so long, even with the best of
They “started out on the
freshmen in the downstairs basement,” a source close to the victim said. “All of
the freshman got the pool cue...” That included the boy who would later have
“holes in his pants” and need surgery for the sodomy.
According to the source,
the bullies are upperclassmen who apparently hazed all of the freshmen during
their out-of-town stay.
Later on that night they
headed upstairs where the 15-year-old victim was sound asleep and allegedly
ambushed him. The freshman fought back against the licking, which only served to
make their blows even more vicious. This was too much for the boy who told Coach
Montgomery that he was being harassed. Montgomery, according to multiple
accounts, marched over to the cabin and chewed out the entire
Police: Basketball player raped by
This reprimand set off a
sadistic trio of basketball players who allegedly ganged up on their tattletale
teammate while he was sleeping. The bullies were two sophomores: one a “thick,
muscular” 16-year-old (who sources said is 6-foot-1 and also plays on the
varsity football team) who pinned the 6-foot-2 “scrawny” freshman down, which
allowed the team’s 17-year-old senior (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) to allegedly
violate him, multiple sources said.
A fourth teammate whipped
out his phone and recorded the horror, multiple sources
Some time after the
assault, Coach Montgomery drove the boy to LeConte Medical Center. Later the
Gatlinburg Police Department showed up and arrested the three accused
The rape was
so brutal that the tip of the pool cue snapped off inside him and had to be
The boy was initially
released from the hospital and went back to the cabin, where he collapsed in a
pool of blood, according to multiple sources. When the severity of his injuries
were realized, he was transferred to the University of Tennessee Medical Center
in Knoxville to undergo surgery. The rape was so brutal that the tip of the pool
cue snapped off inside him and had to be surgically removed, sources
The victim is recovering
from a ruptured colon and a punctured bladder and prostate, sources told The
The boy has remained
actively communicating on SnapChat and has shared some details about what
happened that night in the cabin.
“The boy said his
injuries are getting better and that he was doing OK,” the source
Two of the three boys
remain in a juvenile detention facility in Sevier County and a third has been
released. The reasons for springing him are unclear.
The pair who tag-teamed
the boy were charged with one count of aggravated rape and one count of
aggravated assault. The Sevier County prosecutor could upgrade the charges to
four counts of aggravated rape for each boy and hit all three with multiple
counts of aggravated assault.
It was highly unlikely
that other teammates were unaware of what was happening since, the source close
to the victim said. “There was a lot of screaming going on.”
And a source close to the
investigation told The Daily Beast the boys “may have changed roles” by taking
turns tackling the teen into submission before wielding the cue stick and
plunging it into the boy “through his clothing.”
The boy who captured the
assault on SnapChat was interviewed by investigators this week but “refused to
say what his role was or if there was a video recording.” The teen still could
face criminal charges for his chronicling role in the gang rape, even though his
parents initially came clean about his involvement.
Eerily, the alleged
senior ringleader had posted on Facebook when he was a freshman athlete four
years ago some rules to avoid getting pranked.
“Rule #1: Never be the
first man asleep when you with a group of people #SplashDown”
“Rule #2: Don’t prank
everybody else around you and go to sleep. #That’sTragic”
After his name leaked
online as one of the accused, his Facebook account got
“You’re a sick person.
What you did was fucking horrible,” wrote one person.
“You’ll get all the ass
reaming you can stand where you’re headed big boy,” wrote
Hazing is said to
routinely occur in the Ooltewah locker rooms where the lights are shut off and,
in the dark, younger team members are repeatedly walloped by their upperclassmen
“The players cut the
lights out so they couldn’t see who it was that punched them and there was
wrestling and horseplaying going on,” according to a source close to the
Coach Montgomery would be
next door to the locker room and would put the kibosh on the
“The coach would hear the
racket and told them, ‘Stop horsing around before somebody gets hurt,’” the
attorney denied his client presided over such brutality.
“There is no culture of
hazing or abuse at Ooltewah where athletes are encouraged or taught to violate
the law (or even simply human decency) by teachers, administrators or coaches,”
Curtis L. Bowe III said in a statement last week.
The source close to the
victim acknowledged that while the attack was ferocious, the boy had mentioned
that it wasn’t the first time he’d been hazed, given that the practice is
ingrained in Ooltewah High’s culture.
“They pick on the
freshman students but you never heard of stuff going this far in terms of
hazing,” the source said. “These kids did something that is heinous and evil to
me and how can you even fathom this kind of stuff?”
If the rape wasn’t
startling enough, then the school’s sidestepping should be.
Principal Jim Jarvis made
little of the gang rape in an email two days later. “A violation of team policy
did occur,” he wrote, followed by Athletic Director Jesse Nayadley, who said
there was “no reason” to look into the coaches after the
On Thursday, Nayadley was
charged with false reporting after he downplayed the diabolical incident to
It wasn’t until last
Wednesday, more than two weeks after the rape, that the Hamilton County Board of
Education and high school administration canceled the varsity basketball
Superintendent Rick Smith
publicly announced he was going to forfeit the remaining 13 games of the Owls’ varsity
season to douse the basketball bonfire.
“Since this speculation
is likely to continue until the investigation is concluded, and since this
speculation could threaten the integrity of law enforcement’s investigation, I
have decided to end the team’s 2015-2016 season,” he read in a prepared
Smith offered up “how
heartbroken I am about this” and that he was going to “develop the kind of
safeguards that will prevent this from ever happening again.”
For the source who’s
close to the victim, the nonchalance by Coach Montgomery and the school seemed
“The school board
members, they didn’t bother to come off from their little vacation and meet on
this thing earlier,” the source, who requested anonymity, said. “That’s two
weeks we’re talking about that they had the opportunity to get a hand on it and
they’re waiting till Wednesday?”
The lip service seemed to
have temporarily stalled the outrage since the team went on to play three games
before the administration finally buckled to pressure.
Meanwhile, Coach “Tank”
Montgomery has since been banished from setting foot on any Hamilton County
school campus and relegated to sorting textbooks and teaching materials at a
local book depository after administrators scuttled the rest of the team’s
games, The Daily Beast has learned. “It’s not a supervisor position,” the source
close to the investigation said.
Both Coach Montgomery and
Asst. Coach Williams were charged with failure to report the rape to authorities
and charged with child neglect for leaving 14 players alone in a cabin for two
On Jan. 26 the charged
defendants must appear in Sevier County Juvenile Court room. The senior, a
source close to the rape case noted, will turn 18 five days later. That means he
will be tried as an adult if the case isn’t resolved by his birthday on Jan.
“And if he’s found guilty
and incarcerated,” the source said, “he’ll be moved to big boy
But the source added that
the prosecutor “is not inclined to transfer the case to adult
The Hamilton County
School District referred The Daily Beast to lawyer D. Scott Bennett, who
declined to answer any questions.
“We are limited by
instructions from law enforcement not to comment out of concern that doing so
might compromise an ongoing investigation,” he wrote.
prosecutors have opened a probe in Ooltewah to determine if a history of
assaults extends beyond this rape incident.
Once accusations came out
claiming there may have been more than one hazing incident during the tournament
trip to Gatlinburg. District Attorney Neal Pinkston’s office said it would dive
“When they said the
hazing happened on the trip we didn’t know if that meant getting in the van in
Hamilton County or arriving in Sevier County.”
Most troubling it seems
is the collateral damage for anybody associated with the Ooltewah varsity
While their season of 13
more games was over, the freshman teams schedule wasn’t
But, according to a
source close to the investigation, one of the freshman players who traveled to
the tournament and had been a victim of the hazing showed up to play in Friday’s
freshman matchup but was turned away and told to hang up his high-tops for the
rest of the season because of his “association with the varsity team which has
Weeks before the alleged
rape a Tennessee watchdog organization called Unifi-Edhad completed a bullying
study. When reaching out to students throughout the state they found that
bullying topped the list of kids’ concerns.
On Monday the nonprofit’s
executive director, Elizabeth Crews, sent a letter to the Hamilton County School
District’s chairman and the superintendent detailing at least five glaring ways
that the district was “not in compliance” with state anti-bullying guidelines.
First, Ooltewah and other
schools in the district have failed to give kids discreet ways to report when
“Having a safe, anonymous
way to report is huge,” Crews said. “Their system has none of
Crews is also stunned the
district remains tone-deaf when it comes to consequences once retaliation is
inflictedafterbullying allegations get reported.
“I haven’t seen where
it’s written down anywhere in policies, procedures or in the student handbooks
what will happen if you do this,” she said.
Anything short of the
bullies being tried as adults for some of the offended students, parents, and
law enforcement officials will be an injustice.