High school coach, administrators accused of not reporting alleged sexual assault

2012-09-07T15:20:00Z 2012-12-07T20:10:07Z High school coach, administrators accused of not reporting alleged sexual assaultBy ZACH PLUHACEK / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

The head wrestling coach and two administrators at a central Nebraska school are accused of not reporting allegations of sexual assault involving student wrestlers.

And a member of the team claims the Maxwell High School principal called him a liar after he reported being assaulted.

According to investigators with the Nebraska State Patrol, staff at Maxwell Public Schools knew about at least two alleged incidents involving the same boy, one in which he claims he was sodomized with a soda bottle at a Kearney wrestling camp in 2011. In another, he said a peer touched him inappropriately on a school bus.

Court documents indicate one alleged victim, but the Nebraska State Patrol said its investigation "led to several more potential victims of alleged sexual assault."

Coach Ryan Jones, Principal Aubrey "Aub" Boucher and Superintendent Danny Twarling have been cited on suspicion of failing to report child abuse or neglect, the patrol said Thursday. No arrests have been made in the alleged assaults themselves.

Twarling told investigators he and his staff looked into the allegations and determined them to be unfounded, according to an affidavit by Patrol Investigator Carlos Trevino filed in Lincoln County Court in July.

"(The district) reports all incidents of abuse or neglect to the proper authorities when there is reasonable cause to make such a report as provided under Nebraska law,” Twarling said in a prepared statement.

State law requires people in certain positions, including school employees, to report to law enforcement if they have "reasonable cause to believe that a child has been subjected to child abuse or neglect."

Trevino says two boys told investigators they witnessed the bus incident and talked to Boucher about it. He said a woman told the patrol she emailed Boucher in August 2011 after she and her sons saw video of the Kearney incident and decided not to enroll in the Maxwell district because of it.

She said Boucher told her he would get to the bottom of it, but he never contacted authorities.

Instead, the alleged victim says, Boucher called him a liar and a rumor spreader.

The woman, who was the first to contact investigators, told them she saw video in which a boy was being assaulted "by one ... classmate while at least two other Maxwell students held (him) down,” according to Trevino’s affidavit, filed as a request for a warrant to search school records.

She said that when she asked the alleged victim if his coach knew about the incident, the boy said he was told, "What happens in wrestling stays in wrestling.”

The boy also said his coach told team members to stop jacking around.

Coach Jones and Boucher could not be reached for comment, and Twarling said none of them would have anything to say beyond the prepared statement.

“I would love to, but no, I really can’t,” he said.

All three men were working Thursday. Members of Maxwell’s school board could not be reached for comment.

Jones teaches history and government and coaches football and girls track, in addition to coaching the wrestling team. Boucher is athletic director and principal of the high school, and Twarling is both the district superintendent and principal of the elementary school.

The state Board of Education can revoke or discipline an educator’s license if a petition is filed against him or her. Petitions aren’t made public unless there is a settlement or a hearing before the state Department of Education's Professional Practices Commission.

It’s unclear what, if any, action could be taken by the Nebraska School Activities Association, which oversees high school athletics and activities.

Maxwell board president Casey Meyer declined to comment.

Maxwell, about 10 miles east of North Platte, has fewer than 300 students.

JoAnne Young contributed to this report.

 

Reach Zach Pluhacek at 402-473-7234 or zpluhacek@journalstar.com.

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