Sheriff Hammond doesn't rule out charges for adults involved in Ooltewah rape case

Sheriff Hammond doesn't rule out charges for adults involved in Ooltewah rape case

January 11th, 2016 by Kendi A. Rainwater in Local - Breaking News

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond told a group gathered at the local Pachyderm meeting today that charges are not pending against any adults here in Hamilton County in connection with the alleged assault and rape of an Ooltewah High School freshman by his teammates.  

"We do not, at this time, have anything concrete to move forward [with pressing charges against adults in Hamilton County,]" Hammond said.  

He clarified that charges against adults involved in this case are not out of the question, but that at this time an "arrest is not imminent."

Hammond told those gathered that two of his best detectives are working with authorities in Gatlinburg, Tenn., to investigate the charges pending against three former Ooltewah basketball players in Sevier County for aggravated rape and aggravated assault. 

Detectives are also investigating the case here in Hamilton County to determine if anything inappropriate took place in Hamilton County prior to the Dec. 22 assault in Gatlinburg, Tenn., Hammond said.

Hammond mentioned to those gathered that a gag order is not currently in place in this case, but he still cannot provide answers about the "who, what and where" of this case due to the ongoing investigation. 

"There are a whole lot of rumors out there," Hammond said.  "But at this point there is nothing that would indicate to me we are sitting on a hotbed of problems at any school [in Hamilton County."]

Less than two hours after Hammond's speech, Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston released a statement affirming that investigators were working to determine the scope of criminal activity that took place in Hamilton County "related to assaults committed by older members of the Ooltewah boys' basketball team," including whether any adults such as coaches or administrators hold "criminal responsibility for failure to supervise students," or failure to report abuse. 

Pinkston reported that he had asked Hammond's office to "refrain from public comment" during the investigation.

Hamilton County schools Superintendent Rick Smith and Hammond held a press conference at 3 p.m. at the Hamilton County Department of Education board room located at 3074 Hickory Valley Road.

Contact staff writer Kendi Anderson at kendi.anderson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.  Follow on twitter @kendi_and

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