(CHATTANOOGA) Three adults have been charged in an alleged team hazing involving the Ooltewah High School boys basketball team, more charges may emerge and Hamilton County's chief prosecutor is looking into whether there's an "ingrained culture of violence" there among the basketball and football teams.
Basketball coach Andre "Tank" Montgomery, assistant coach Karl Williams and Ooltewah Athletic Director Allard J. Nayadley are accused of failing to report child sexual abuse for four victims who play on the boys team, according to the Hamilton County District Attorney General's Office.
According to DA Neal Pinkston's office, all four victims told investigators they were beaten with pool cues while in Gatlinburg last month and that they later each were sexually assaulted with a pool cue.
As word spread of the charges, parents and former students packed a Hamilton County school board meeting Thursday night.
Some said bullying was a problem in the system; others said accusations being made against Ooltewah High athletes were unfair and inaccurate.
One mother told board members her son was beaten on a school bus and left with a brain injury.
Former Ooltewah student Kyle Duckett, however, said he feared authorities were going "on a witch hunt."
"We were never condoned to do such a thing. We were held to a higher standard. To wear that Ooltewah across your chest meant everything," he said.
Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Robert Philyaw has issued summonses for Montgomery, Williams and Nayadley.
Under state law they're required to report any suspected child sexual abuse to the Tennessee Department of Children's Services.
Three players on the Ooltewah boys varsity basketball team are charged in Sevier County with the rape and assault of a younger player. The incident happened Dec. 22 while the team was staying at a Gatlinburg cabin while playing in a pre-Christmas basketball tournament.
In addition, three other victims have been identified, DA Neal Pinkston's office confirmed Thursday.
According to WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, the documents reveal that investigators found that after Montgomery, Williams, and Nayadley were notified of the allegations they did nothing to notify the Department of Children's Services or law enforcement. It wasn't until the injured freshman was taken to a hospital that hospital staff alerted authorities.
"An investigator from the DA's Office and a (Hamilton County detective) are working to determine the scope of criminal activity that took place this school year related to assaults committed by older members of the Ooltewah boys' basketball team against freshmen players," according to a release from the DA's Office.
Superintendent Rick Smith says he didn’t suspend the staff members sooner because he didn’t have all the information about what they'd allegedly done, and policy prevents him from taking action without evidence.
"For all of us it’s a scenario that’s tragic, but as you saw this evening our board is going to address this very aggressively with regard to policy," he said.
Allegations have emerged that there's a persistent problem with violence among the football and basketball teams, according to the DA's Office.
Authorities intend to interview past Ooltewah students.
"As we interview potential victims who are former OHS players, if the evidence is sufficient to meet the state's legal burden of proof, charges will be filed for those incidents as well," according to the DA's Office.
Authorities wrote in the complaint filed Thursday that DCS said no one within the Hamilton County Department of Education, Ooltewah High School administration, or its coaching staff, ever notified DCS of the incident.
Earlier this week, the Hamilton County superintendent reassigned coach Montgomery to a "non-teaching position" at the book depository. At the time, Smith said the move was not to punish or penalize the coach.
Superintendent Rick Smith has said that his staff told him about the incident the day after it happened.
WRCB-TV contributed to this report.