More details revealed about Ooltewah rape case; two juvenile suspects approved for bond

More details revealed about Ooltewah rape case; two juvenile suspects approved for bond

January 16th, 2016 by Kendi A. Rainwater in Local Regional News

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Superintendent Rick Smith listens during a meeting Thursday at the Hamilton County Department of Education.

Superintendent Rick Smith listens during a meeting Thursday...

Photo by Angela Lewis Foster /Times Free Press.

The boys’ bond conditions:

* They must remain on house arrest and be supervised at all times

* They are prevented from having any contact with the victims, the victims families and property, or with their codefendants

* They are restricted from all social media

* They cannot talk about the case with anyone beside their legal counsel

* They are restricted from attending the same school as the victims

Source: Sevier County Juvenile Court records

SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. — The screams of an Ooltewah High School freshman echoed through the rented cabin in Gatlinburg, Tenn., on Dec. 22, alerting his basketball coaches something was wrong, according to a source involved in the investigation.

 

 

 

 

Following the sound of the boy's shrieks, Andre Montgomery, the team's head coach, found his player on the floor in a basement bedroom bleeding after the teenager was assaulted and raped by three older teammates with a pool cue, the source said. Instead of calling authorities about the incident as required by law, Montgomery and assistant coach Karl Williams decided to handle the situation themselves, according to the source.

It wasn't until Montgomery took the boy to the hospital that medical staff alerted authorities of the assault, according to the Gatlinburg Police Department.

The incident prompted authorities in Hamilton County to investigate and uncover that three other freshman also were assaulted and "subjected to apparent sexual assault" during the trip, but their injuries were not as severe as their teammate's. He needed surgery to repair a ruptured colon and bladder.

Investigators also learned that prior to the assault, the coaches left the boys alone at the cabin for several hours while they went grocery shopping, according to a source involved in the investigation.

Investigators in Hamilton County now believe the younger players were being abused prior to the Gatlinburg trip, and that the school's coaches and athletic director had some knowledge of this misbehavior, according to the source.

Three adults and three juveniles are charged in connection with the alleged rape of the 15-year-old, court records show.

Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston filed charges Thursday against Montgomery, Williams and Ooltewah High Athletic Director Allard "Jesse" Nayedley for failing to report child abuse or suspected child sexual abuse in connection with this case.

All three men are scheduled to appear in Hamilton County Juvenile Court on Thursday at 9 a.m.

Officials involved in Hamilton County's investigation say it is likely the three boys, who are charged with aggravated rape and aggravated assault in Sevier County, will face additional charges here.

According to Sevier County Juvenile Court records released Friday by Judge Dwight Stokes, the two 16-year-old juveniles charged with aggravated rape and aggravated assault in this case have been approved for a bond of $5,000. The 17-year-old also charged in this case is yet to file a motion requesting bond, records show.

According to court officials, one of the 16-year-olds posted the $5,000 bond shortly after a hearing on Dec. 30 where his attorney, Joseph Fanduzz, was present.

Records show the other 16-year-old filed a motion with his attorney, Samantha McCammon, requesting bond on Jan 11. Court officials could not confirm if his bond has been posted.

According to the documents signed by Stokes, none of the boys have a previous record, and each of the defendants and their families have been cooperative with Detective Rodney Burns of the Gatlinburg Police Department.

Documents also say all three boys are not permitted to return to the same school as any of the victims in this case, and "any school placement is to be determined by the school system as deemed appropriate."

All three boys are scheduled to appear in Sevier County Juvenile Court on Jan. 26 at 8:30 a.m.

Hamilton County school board members have previously told the Times Free Press they've received minimal information about the case.

Ooltewah coach Andre Montgomery is seen at a 2014 game against Cleveland.

Ooltewah coach Andre Montgomery is seen at a...

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

Email correspondence between Superintendent Rick Smith and the board following the assault was released Friday, which documented board members' requests for additional details about the assault. Some of the emails exchanged were not released due to attorney-client privilege.

Smith previously told the Times Free Press he was made aware of the incident on Dec. 23, and emails show he notified the school board on Christmas Eve.

"Sorry to send you a work related message on Christmas Eve but I want to let you know of a serious matter involving Ooltewah High basketball students while out of town at a holiday basketball tournament," Smith wrote. "It has been reported that [three] players physically assaulted one of their teammates and are being investigated and may be charged. I don't have much information at this point but know that the victim was injured and required surgery. He is expected to fully recover. I will make you aware as additional information becomes available."

By Monday, Dec. 28, the situation had escalated, gaining public attention, and school board members began to demand more information, emails show.

School board member Rhonda Thurman said in an email Dec. 28 she was outraged over the incident, writing,"the truth, as ugly as it may be, needs to be dealt with in the open by this elected body."

In response to Thurman's email, board member Donna Horn said she hoped "we hear a report about what actually transpired, responsible parties, adult and students, that were present at this tournament before the media does."

School district officials remained silent, and the board did not hold its first public meeting until Jan 6. The much-anticipated and crowded meeting lasted less than four minutes, for which the school board Chairman Jonathan Welch later apologized.

Smith held his first post-assault news conference following the assault on Jan. 11, offering an apology for how parts of the situation were handled. He said at the request of law enforcement he could not discuss details about the ongoing investigation.

At the time, Smith announced he had moved Montgomery out of Ooltewah and placed him in a non-teaching, non-administrative position. Records show Montgomery is working at the district's textbook depository.

Just three days after this transfer, Montgomery and the other two adults were charged by the Hamilton County District Attorney, and Smith announced that all three men are suspended without pay pending the outcome of the investigation.

After Thursday night's school board meeting, Smith said he believes all three men "knew what to do and failed to follow protocol."

Web editor Ellis Smith contributed to this report.

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

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