School board meets behind closed doors, citing expected lawsuits over Ooltewah rape

The Hamilton County Board of Education is meeting behind closed doors tonight to discuss the threat of pending litigation with its attorney.

Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston briefed the board on the ongoing criminal investigation into the alleged rape and assault of an Ooltewah High School freshman, and the assault of at least three other members of the basketball team.

Each of the nine school board members was present, but Superintendent Rick Smith was not.

Three juveniles are charged in Sevier County, Tenn., with aggravated rape and aggravated assault of a 15-year-old teammate during the team's trip to Gatlinburg, Tenn., days before Christmas.

Pinkston filed charges Thursday against Ooltewah's head coach Andre "Tank" Montgomery, assistant coach Karl 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 and the assault of three other players on the team.

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.

It is not clear whether any lawsuits have been filed. However, several civil lawsuits are expected.

School officials say the law allows them to meet in private if a threat exists that a civil lawsuit could be filed. However, the law also requires that they do not deliberate or make any decisions, and may only discuss pending litigation.

Reporters heard the sound of laughter coming from the meeting room. After District Attorney Neal Pinkston left the closed meeting, the board continued to meet behind closed doors.