Two coaches and three administrators have been charged for “Failure To Report With Intent To Conceal Neglect Or Abuse” after Midland Police say a student was locked in a locker room and sexually assaulted during baseball practice at a Christian school.
“It was freshman initiation day,” another student said to the victim. “The victim said he was then pushed to the ground while still being hit and everyone was screaming at him. He stated he attempted to hit his attacker but was told he was not allowed to hit back. The victim then stated he was sexually assaulted with a bat,” Newswest9 reports.
Midland Police say that Ellis reported the incident to the Superintendent, Lee instructed McClendon and Counts to investigate the incident back in January. On February 14th, Lee told an MPD officer that he would not turn over the requested documentation about the incident and refused to answer any more questions over the phone. Police then obtained a search warrant to gather the documents, but police say that there was nothing there and that the few documents they did collect had just been created a few days before.
Texas Family Code 261.109 requires that sexual assault be reported, but police say that emails that they obtained showed clear refusal by those involved to report the abuse to authorities. Officers determined that the five people arrested all had knowledge of the sexual assault but did not report it as required by the Texas Family Code.
Faculty and staff members were released on personal recognizance bonds. meaning all they had to do was give their word that they will show up for future court dates. Midland Police say that one juvenile was arrested and that his name and charges have not been released at this time. NewsWest 9 reached out to Midland Christian School Wednesday and got the following statement from Jason Stockstill, President of the Board of Trustees for MCS:
“Earlier today, Midland Police Department arrested five members of Midland Christian School’s administration. While we value and desire transparency, we must protect the privacy of our students and maintain the best educational environment possible under these difficult circumstances. Under advice from legal counsel, this will be our only statement on the matter at this time.
The five administrators were notified of an alleged hazing incident involving some of our student-athletes that resulted in school disciplinary action. Subsequently, school leadership was contacted by MPD regarding the alleged incident. Our school officials have and will continue to, cooperate with law enforcement and their investigation. Currently, we have qualified acting administrators to supervise the campus, oversee student activities, support faculty, and maintain the day-to-day operation of the school.
The physical, spiritual, and emotional safety of our students is the most important responsibility we bear as educators and one we take seriously. We appreciate the support and prayers of our Midland Christian parents, faculty, staff and students as we continue leading, building and equipping for Christ.
Midland Christian will be holding a meeting Wednesday night to discuss the baseball team’s future. At this time, the school has canceled practice and backed out of an upcoming tournament.”
Superintendent Jared Owen Lee, 41, athletic director Gregory Neal McClendon, 55, baseball coach Barry Lee Russell, 62, assistant secondary principal Matthew David Counts, 27, and secondary principal Dana Elizabeth Ellis, 42, were arrested and charged with felony failure to report with intent to conceal neglect or abuse.
“The victim was interviewed at the Children’s Advocacy Center where he said the assault happened after baseball practice in the locker room. The victim stated he was told it was “freshman initiation day” before he was pushed to the ground and they started hitting him and later assaulted him with a baseball bat, according to court documents,” reports Stewart Doreen. According to court documents, Ellis was made aware of the assault on Jan. 20 and notified Lee on Jan. 21. Instead of reporting the assault to authorities Lee allegedly directed McClendon and Counts to conduct an “investigation”. On Feb. 14 Lee refused to provide any more information to detectives who then in turn obtained a search warrant.
Newswest 9 report can be read here: https://www.newswest9.com/article/news/crime/midland-christian-school-arrests/513-ffa75e60-1efa-45b8-bccb-fe45c6a15272
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