Gatlinburg detective defends testimony, district attorney responds, claims detective perjured himself

Gatlinburg detective defends testimony, district attorney responds, claims detective perjured himself

February 18th, 2016 by Staff Report in Local Regional News

Staff Photo by Dan Henry / The Chattanooga Times Free Press- 2/15/16. Detective Rodney Burns of the Gatlinburg Police Department is questioned as a witness before Judge Robert Philyaw during a preliminary hearing for the Ooltewah High School basketball coaches and the school's athletic director in Hamilton County Juvenile Court on February 15, 2016. Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston charged head coach Andre "Tank" Montgomery, assistant coach Karl Williams and Athletic Director Allard "Jesse" Nayadley with failing to report child abuse or suspected child sexual abuse in connection with the rape of an Ooltewah High School freshman by his basketball teammates Dec. 22, 2015.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

Detective Rodney Burns of the Gatlinburg Police Department is sworn in as a witness before Judge Robert Philyaw during a preliminary hearing for the Ooltewah High School basketball coaches and the school's athletic director in Hamilton County Juvenile Court on Monday.

Detective Rodney Burns of the Gatlinburg Police Department...

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

An attorney for a Gatlinburg, Tenn., police detective calls allegations that the officer may have spoken untruthfully during a hearing in the Ooltewah basketball rape case "base" and "reckless."

Attorney Bryan E. Delius, in a news release, said Detective Rodney Burns, a 25-year veteran with the Gatlinburg department, "wholly denies" any wrongdoing.

However, Melydia Clewell, spokeswoman for District Attorney General Neal Pinkston, released this statement in response to Delius' letter:

"General Pinkston believes Detective Burns perjured himself in Hamilton County Juvenile Court on Monday, February 15. That's the only reason he asked the TBI to investigate. He swore an oath to prosecute crimes, no matter who commits them."

"As for General Pinkston's life goals, he is a career prosecutor with no interest in leaving Chattanooga, Tennessee. Last fall he respectfully declined the Haslam Administration's attempts to appoint him to an open judgeship in Hamilton County."

Burns testified in a Juvenile Court hearing Monday where three Ooltewah athletics officials are charged with failing to report sexual assault on the 15-year-old freshman that happened during a tournament trip to Gatlinburg on Dec. 22.

On the stand, Burns said the insertion of a pool cue into the boy's rectum, which punctured his colon, prostate and bladder, wasn't a rape because the assailants didn't receive sexual gratification. 

Hamilton County District Attorney General Neal Pinkston responded by asking the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to begin a probe. Pinkston said Burns' words on the stand contradicted what he wrote in incident reports.

Delius said Burns' reports and his testimony were truthful and said Pinkston "needlessly injected himself into this case for his own political ambitions at the cost of victims."
Delius also said  that "General Pinkston should be concerned instead with the systemic failure of Hamilton County Schools to stop a history of bullying and hazing."

Read the complete statement below:

Document: Gatlinburg Detective Rodney Burns' statement

Gatlinburg Detective Rodney Burns has received criticism from the community and local law enforcement for his testimony regarding the Ooltewah rape case. Burns released a statement defending his remarks.

View Document

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