Hazing not a factor in alleged rape at Brainerd High School, superintendent says

Hazing not a factor in alleged rape at Brainerd High School, superintendent says

December 7th, 2018 by Meghan Mangrum in Local Regional News

Brainerd High School is shown in this 2012 staff file photo.

Photo by Staff File Photo /Times Free Press.

This story was updated Dec. 7, 2018, at 6:15 p.m. with more information.

Hamilton County Schools said there is no indication that Wednesday's alleged rape at Brainerd High School was the result of hazing.

Superintendent Bryan Johnson told the Times Free Press on Friday that though there is an open, ongoing investigation into the incident, there is "no preliminary indication whatsoever that hazing was involved at all."

A student reported the alleged rape took place Wednesday after dismissal on school grounds.

School officials then notified law enforcement and the Department of Children Services and Chattanooga police arrested the accused student that night.

Hamilton County District Attorney's Office spokeswoman Melydia Clewell said a petition to transfer the case to criminal court will be filed. However, that decision will ultimately be up to a juvenile court judge and not the DA.

A transfer to criminal court would mean the juvenile, who is over the age of 14, would be tried as an adult. In criminal court, rape is considered a class B felony, which carries a sentence of up to 30 years and no less than eight.

Additional support staff were at Brainerd High School on Friday and would remain available to students and staff in the coming weeks, Johnson said.

"There were additional counselors and support staff and several members of the Opportunity Zone team on site for a good portion of the day, making sure that students and teachers feel supported," Johnson said.

In December 2015, a then 15-year-old freshman at Ooltewah High School was raped with a pool cue by teammates during a hazing incident while on a trip to Gatlinburg with the basketball team. The case led to investigations into a culture of abuse that was ignored at the school for decades.

The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office also reopened an investigation into an alleged rape of a student by another student at Hixson High School in January of this year.

The rape was reported to have occurred after school hours during the fall of 2017, but the case was reopened when more details were reported by a family member of the victim.

Johnson could not confirm if procedures for after-school activities or access to school grounds would change, but did say the district would have to be mindful of what activities were provided after-school.

"You have after school activities, sports, tutoring programs, community programs, there's a balance there between offering the program and ensuring the providers are being really mindful," Johnson said.

Chattanooga Police Department spokespeople did not respond to a request for comment.

Contact staff writer Rosana Hughes at rhughes@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6327 with tips or story ideas. Follow her on Twitter @HughesRosana.

Contact staff writer Meghan Mangrum at mmangrum@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.