SEVIER COUNTY -- The former Ooltewah High School student convicted of raping his basketball teammate with a pool-cue will remain in custody until Nov. 21 and then be released, according to someone inside the courtroom.
He was sentenced today in Sevier County Juvenile Court, after being convicted of aggravated rape in August. He is the oldest of the three assailants convicted in connection with the rape, and turned 18 soon after the attack. He has remained in custody since late December, following the rape which occurred just days before Christmas at a cabin in Gatlinburg, Tenn., where the team was staying during a basketball tournament.
Sevier County Juvenile Court Judge Jeff Rader denied multiple requests by the Times Free Press to be allowed inside the courtroom.
Two other boys were charged and later convicted of aggravated assault in connection with the rape, they were sentenced today to spend 60 more days in custody, having already served 50 days, according to someone inside the courtroom.
These two boys were also charged with aggravated rape, but not convicted.Previous court testimony stated they held the victim down as the older boy rammed a pool-cue into his rectum causing injuries so severe he required emergency surgery.
Court testimony and investigations have stated that three other freshman on the school's basketball team were also assaulted with a pool-cue during the Gatlinburg trip. These boys did not receive as severe injuries and no one has been charged in connection with the attacks, though Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston said they were also raped.
Since all three cases were handled in juvenile court, the boys' records will be wiped clean once they turn 18. The assailant convicted of rape will be added to Tennessee's sex offender registry
Rader prevented the public or media from being in the courtroom, as Tennessee law grants juvenile court judges the right to determine if court proceedings are open to the public. If a judge closes the courtroom they are required by law to provide reasoning as to why public access to the hearing would results in "particularized prejudice," and consider "reasonable alternatives" to closing the hearing.
The Times Free Press made several requests asking Rader to open the courtroom to media, but he denied the requests saying defendants in the case objected to the media being present.
When asked to provide additional reasoning for closing the hearing, Rader provided an order saying the hearing was closed to protect the identities of the defendants and victims. He said there was "no reasonable alternative" to closing the courtroom.
Previously, Sevier County Juvenile Court Judge Dwight Stokes allowed the media into the transfer hearing for the 18-year-old now convicted of rape in this case. Stokes asked that the names of the victims, defendants and their families not be reported.
According to Times Free Press policy, the paper does not print the names of victims of sexual assaults or minors being tried in juvenile court.
Stoke's decision to allow the 18-year-old assailant to remain in juvenile court, instead of being transferred to adult court, means he faced much more lenient sentencing.
See Wednesday's Times Free Press for the full story.