Grundy County football players could be charged as adults in attempted rape caseRead more
Attempted rape charges against five Grundy County High School football players are only the latest in a litany of sexual misconduct and bullying at the school, police records and court documents show.
The Times Free Press obtained 105 pages of police reports involving students or staff at the school dating back to March 2015. Most relate to fights, vandalism, or possession of a weapon, alcohol or tobacco.
But some court records and police reports alleged assault or sexual assault, including a case that led to a former teacher pleading guilty to raping a 14-year-old student. Another report of sexual misbehavior between four boys and a female student involved two of the boys accused in the October rape attempt, and in a 2015 case, a Grundy County High School student admitted to molesting a 10-year-old girl on a school bus.
The most recent incident came to light Oct. 13 with reports that five football players attempted to rape a 15-year-old teammate with a metal mop handle in the football fieldhouse early on the morning of Oct 11.
The five boys were charged with attempted aggravated rape and placed on house arrest. A judge has ordered that no one discuss details of the case. Head football coach Sherman "Casey" Tate was relieved of his coaching duties but continues to teach at the school.
Some school board members said at an Oct. 16 board meeting that Director of Schools Jessie Kinsey had ignored warnings of a potentially negative culture and their recommendation to completely replace the coaching staff.
"This is not the first time something of this manner has happened," school board member Kasey Anderson said at the meeting. "We can't trust her."
Kinsey declined to comment to the Times Free Press at the meeting.
In late October, Grundy County Sheriff Clint Shrum issued a subpoena to Kinsey seeking documents or reports of hazing, physical or sexual abuse. It's not clear whether she has complied with the subpoena.
Shrum confirmed that two boys accused in the Oct. 11 incident also took part in a 2015 incident in the fieldhouse. Four football players —three freshmen and a junior — went there with a female classmate, according to the police report.
One boy asked the girl to show them her buttocks, the report states. She "panicked and didn't know what to do so agreed to do so."
Three boys pulled down her pants and panties and "smacked her on the butt," and one asked her for oral sex, the report states. It says one boy took a Snapchat video of the incident and sent it to at least three people.
Investigators said the girl told them she didn't ask the boys to stop. They also found the girl had sent several nude photos to all the boys' cellphones before and after the incident.
"Not one time before or after did [the girl] ever express any time where she was afraid or converned [sic] for her safety," the report states. "At no time did she ever report this incident to a staff member."
Twelfth Judicial District Attorney General Mike Taylor decided not to prosecute since "there were no signs of physical contact," according to the report.
The teacher who pleaded guilty to rape had multiple documented incidents of alleged sexual misconduct toward girls, according to court records and his personnel file.
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Thomas Andrews' personnel file shows reports dating back to at least 2005. There is no record of any disciplinary action being taken, other than a handful of talks administrators had with him.
Andrews, a teacher and volleyball coach at Swiss Memorial Elementary, a pre-K-8 school in Gruetli-Laager, Tenn., pleaded guilty in late 2016 to two counts of aggravated rape of a 14-year-old student. She was his student for at least three years.
Court documents state Andrews picked the victim up in his truck several times and gave her alcohol. She said she "sort of fell asleep" and woke up to find him fondling her. This happened more than once, and the two had sexual intercourse at least one time.
During Andrews' sentencing hearing, another woman testified that when she was in high school in 2009 or 2010, he forcibly kissed her and repeatedly touched her buttocks.
In his pre-sentence report, Andrews said he "was caught up in a crazy fantasy that she and I had fallen in love."
In both cases, the Department of Children's Services was notified several times but failed to open an investigation, according to court documents. Records showed Andrews' half-brother, a 14-and-a-half-year employee of DCS, testified on Andrews' behalf.
A spokesman for DCS said Wednesday the agency is looking into the case to determine why it was not investigated.
Andrews is serving a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence. He was denied parole in July.
School records also show former head basketball coach Jerry Brown resigned after five students were left unattended for almost five hours after basketball camp in July 2016.
Brown had told parents they would have to pick students up at noon, as he would not be providing supervision after that time, the Grundy County Herald reported.
While the boys were unsupervised in the locker room, one struck another several times with a plastic bat wrapped in duct tape, according to a police report. The assailant was charged with aggravated assault.
Brown was suspended without pay while the investigation took place. He then left the school to "pursue other opportunities," according to his resignation letter.
Brown told the Times Free Press he takes full responsibility for his actions leading to the incident, though he said he was never given keys and so couldn't lock the boys out of the gym when he left.
Another police report details charges of aggravated sexual battery of a minor by a Grundy High School boy in April 2015.
The report said the principal of Tracy City Elementary School saw the boy, whose age was not listed, inappropriately touching a 10-year-old girl.
Two students told investigators they saw the boy with his arm around and up the victim's leg on a school bus.
The boy admitted to touching the child's genitals through her pants and said he "fantasized about touching young girls" and was "sorry for it," the report stated. He was charged with aggravated sexual battery of a minor.
Last school year, 76 cases of harassment, intimidation, bullying or cyber-bullying were reported to Grundy County school officials, according to the Civil Rights and Bullying Compliance Report from the Tennessee Department of Education.
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Of those, 22 were found to be true bullying, and 16 were based on sex or gender discrimination. None resulted in out-of-school suspensions, but there were 37 disciplinary actions ranging from student/parent conferences to in-school suspensions.
The incidents in Grundy County echo problems at Ooltewah High and Middle schools, documented in a 2016 Times Free Press investigation, in which school leaders for decades looked away from reports and suspicions of inappropriate behavior toward children.
On Dec. 22, 2015, three Ooltewah High School basketball players raped a freshman teammate with a pool cue on a team trip to Gatlinburg. Coaches who found the boy bleeding and in pain didn't call police or the Department of Children's Services. They took the 15-year-old victim to a hospital, where medical staff alerted the proper authorities, according to the Gatlinburg Police Department. The teen had to have surgery to repair his colon, bladder and prostate.
Former Ooltewah High School head basketball coach Andre "Tank" Montgomery, volunteer assistant basketball coach Karl Williams and Athletic Director Allard "Jesse" Nayadley were charged with failing to report child sexual abuse or suspected sexual child abuse. Montgomery and Williams' charges were dropped, and Nayadley received a pre-trial diversion.
One of the assailants, who turned 18 after being charged, was found guilty of aggravated rape. The other two, who were 16 at the time of the crime, were convicted of aggravated assault, the Times Free Press previously reported. All three spent less than a year in custody, and the two who were 16 will have their records wiped clean once they turn 18.
The victim filed a federal lawsuit in September 2016, against the two former coaches, athletic director and the Hamilton County Board of Education. Another boy who was sexually assaulted by his teammates during the trip also filed a federal lawsuit. Both are moving toward trial next year.
Contact staff writer Rosana Hughes at email@example.com or 423-757-6327. Follow her on Twitter @HughesRosana.