Ooltewah athletic director could return to job after deal

Ooltewah Athletic Director Allard "Jesse" Nayadley, right, talks with his attorney Lee Davis after Nayadley appeared in Judge Tom Greenholtz's courtroom to take a pre-trial diversion of his charge of failure to report child abuse Wednesday, May 11, 2016, in Chattanooga, Tenn. The pre-trial diversion allows the charge, which came after the December 2015 sexual assault of a basketball player by teammates, to be dismissed after 180 days if Nayadley meets certain conditions.

Ooltewah High School's suspended athletic director could return to his job under an agreement reached Wednesday in Hamilton County Criminal Court.

District Attorney Neal Pinkston had charged Allard "Jesse" Nayadley and two other basketball coaches at Ooltewah High with failing to report child sexual abuse or suspected child sexual abuse in connection with the rape of an Ooltewah High School freshman, allegedly by three of his teammates, just days before Christmas.

But standing in Judge Tom Greenholtz's courtroom Wednesday morning, Pinkston offered Nayadley pretrial diversion, meaning the charges against him will not be presented to a grand jury and his case will be dismissed in 180 days if he completes 10 hours of community service, attends a class on mandatory reporting of abuse and is well-behaved.

"A pretrial diversion is a procedure that is not offered to a lot of people," Greenholtz said during the proceeding.

Nayadley's attorney, Lee Davis, agreed that it's rare for district attorneys to offer pretrial diversion and the state has to approve it, adding that he's never seen anyone regret taking the deal.

Standing outside the courtroom afterward, Davis echoed previous comments that Nayadley should've never been charged in the case, but said under the circumstances pretrial diversion is the best possible outcome for his client.

"The only way it gets better is if you get a letter of apology from the District Attorney's office, and I don't believe they send those," Davis said. " I think it's in everyone's best interest to put this behind us and let Mr. Nayadley move on with his career."

Nayadley did not answer questions from reporters. But when Davis was asked if Nayadley would return to work for the Hamilton County Schools system, he responded that his client is considering what is in his best interest.

Nayadley was suspended without pay from his position at Ooltewah High when he was charged in January.

Stacy Stewart, assistant superintendent of human resources for the Hamilton County Department of Education, said Nayadley could receive retroactive pay for the months of his unpaid suspension if the charge is dropped and the school system's internal investigation has no finding that would warrant termination.

"He would also be reinstated to a position within the district, which would be determined by the Superintendent," Stewart said in an email.

During a preliminary hearing in this case, Pinkston said four boys on the team were sexually assaulted during the basketball team's trip to Gatlinburg, Tenn., and one 15-year-old had to have emergency surgery due to the extent of his injuries.

Pinkston argued that Nayadley, head basketball coach Andre "Tank" Montgomery and volunteer assistant coach Karl Williams failed to report the sexual abuse, or suspected sexual abuse, to the Department of Children's Services, as the law requires.

Pinkston could not say Wednesday whether Montgomery and Williams also were offered pretrial diversion, saying that each case is handled on an individual basis. He said the charges before the men remain pending the Hamilton County grand jury's review.

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

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