Police probe alleged sexual assault at Christian school in Texas

Texas – Five senior administrators at a Christian school in Texas have been charged with failing to report a sexual assault said to have taken place in baseball locker rooms.

A student athlete was allegedly assaulted after practice, as part of “freshman initiation day”.

Staff from the Midland Christian School said they would cooperate with officers over the “alleged hazing”.

But they refused to answer questions – instead telling police to get warrants.

A statement from the school said it was grateful for the support and prayers of parents and that it vowed to “continue leading, building, and equipping for Christ”.

The school superintendent and secondary school principal were among those arrested. All five were bailed out on Wednesday.

According to court documents, the accused are superintendent Jared Owen Lee, 41; secondary school principal Dana Elizabeth Ellis, 42, vice principal of the secondary school Matthew David Counts, 27; athletic director Gregory Neal McClendon, 55; and head baseball coach Barry Lee Russell, 62.

Police have confirmed a juvenile has also been arrested.

While associated in the past usually with college fraternities, hazing also happens in schools. Groups of students band together to harass, humiliate or intimidate another person.

Court documents indicate the five educators knew about the incident soon after it took place in mid-to-late January but were instructed to investigate on their own without contacting police.

Midland Police were made aware on January 28 and interviewed the victim last Friday.

When they first visited the school, principal Ellis said she knew of an incident but could provide no documentation.

When they returned with warrants on Monday, they found emails between the coaches and administrators, as well as complaints about their alleged failure to report the assault.

Jason Stockstill, president of the school’s board of trustees, confirmed the suspects had been “notified of an alleged hazing incident involving some of our student athletes that resulted in school disciplinary action before police contacted them.

He said “qualified acting administrators” would take over while the investigation was under way.

“We appreciate the support and prayers of our Midland Christian parents, faculty, staff, and students as we continue leading, building, and equipping for Christ,” his statement concludes.

The five administrators each face one count of failure to report with intent to conceal neglect or abuse. If convicted, they could face up to two years in prison and fines of $10 000 (£7 339). (BBC)

Leave a Reply