Basketball player rape case roils Tennessee community

Former high school basketball players face rape charges
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Story highlights

  • Freshman basketball player allegedly assaulted while attending tourney
  • Charges against three former teammates
  • Tennessee DA looking into whether there is a pattern of hazing

(CNN)The reported rape of a boys' high school basketball player -- allegedly by teammates wielding a pool stick -- has sent shock waves through a Tennessee community, and the district attorney is looking into whether the assault was an isolated incident.

Three juveniles face aggravated rape and aggravated assault charges in the December 22 incident that occurred while the Ooltewah High School boys' team was at a tournament in Gatlinburg, police in that city said. The victim was hospitalized and required surgery.
The superintendent in Hamilton County, home to Ooltewah, has called for a special school board session on Wednesday, and the district attorney's office is investigating allegations freshmen were assaulted by older teammates before the December incident.
The office, while saying Monday no one has reported any criminal behavior, said media reports have cited family members of freshmen as saying there has been "an ongoing pattern of assaults allegedly committed under the guise of hazing."
Hamilton County District Attorney General Neal Pinkston has asked the sheriff to assist in the investigation.
Ooltewah High School athletic director Jesse Nayadley told CNN Chattanooga affiliate WTVC that the three accused players were kicked off the squad, which has a game scheduled for Friday. Superintendent Rick Smith told the station the teens will not be allowed back in class.
According to Gatlinburg police, the assault allegedly occurred at a rental cabin. The team's coach took the victim to a local hospital. The boy was later sent to a hospital in Knoxville, where he underwent surgery.
The alleged victim's grandmother said there were no adults around when the incident occurred. She said two of the players held her grandson down while a third assaulted him with a pool stick. Gatlinburg police statements do not mention a pool stick.
Her grandson, 15, was released from the hospital and is home recovering.
"He's gained his appetite so he's eating now. His spirits are good. He is still wearing a bag and catheter [that] we're hoping the doctor will remove next week. He's still having nightmares and doesn't like being alone," she said Tuesday.
CNN is not naming the grandmother of the alleged victim because identifying her could in turn identify a sexual assault victim. CNN does not identify such victims.
Gatlinburg police have had no comment on the investigation. It was not clear Tuesday whether the three charged teens have attorneys.
School board member Steve Highlander, who represents Ooltewah High School, told CNN the Hamilton County district is awaiting a report from police in Gatlinburg, which is about 135 miles northeast of Ooltewah.
"This is a very good community and a strong school. The alumni and community are appalled," Highlander said.
The superintendent has already met with several parties involved in the alleged assault, Highlander said.
The school board on Tuesday had not posted an agenda for Wednesday afternoon's meeting. However, Highlander said board members will meet with school district attorneys behind closed doors and then have a public session on the incident.