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Lawsuit: Tennessee school officials knew of athlete hazing and rape

Lawsuit: Tennessee school officials knew of athlete hazing and rape

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A lawsuit by a Tennessee high school basketball player who was raped and assaulted by teammates claims school officials knew athletes were being abused but did nothing.

The victim, identified only as John Doe, was a freshman at Ooltewah High School in December when he was held down by two older players while a third forced a pool cue into his rectum, tearing his bladder. Last week, one of the boys was convicted of aggravated rape and all three were convicted of aggravated assault.

A lawsuit filed Friday in federal court in Chattanooga claims coach Andre Montgomery told players after the assault, “We’re a family and what goes on in the family stays in the family.”

Attorneys for Montgomery and the school did not immediately return calls requesting comment late Friday afternoon.

The suit claims the Hamilton County Schools have a history of ignoring the sexual abuse of male athletes that dates back to the late 1970s.

At Ooltewah High School, an investigation found that the basketball team also had a history of a violent hazing that subjected younger players to locker room beatings anywhere from one to three times a week.

The suit claims players spoke openly about the beatings in front of Montgomery and others. It also says Montgomery could hear locker room noise from his office, which was separated from the locker room only by a wall.

The lawsuit also says players called John Doe a derogatory word for a gay man and other sexually based slurs. When John complained to Montgomery he was told to “man up.”

The rape in December came during an out-of-town tournament in the Tennessee resort town of Gatlinburg. At least two other freshman players were prodded in the rectum with a pool cue before John Doe, and at least one of their assailants had been victimized in the same way when he was a freshman, according to the lawsuit. The freshmen screamed and yelled, but the coaches did nothing, the suit claims.

After John Doe was assaulted, the coaches found him “lying on the floor, covered in blood, urine, and feces,” the lawsuit claims. John Doe required emergency surgery to repair his wounds.

The lawsuit asks for damages for his injuries and suffering in an amount to be determined by the jury.

In a separate case, Montgomery faces four counts of failing to report child sexual abuse.

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