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USA: School officials arrested for ‘concealing’ sexual assault

Five employees at a private school in Texas have been arrested on felony charges after being accused of failing to report an alleged sexual assault of a student to police, a court affidavit shows. One student was also reportedly taken into custody.

Three administrators and two coaches at Midland Christian School – including superintendent Jared Lee and athletic director Gregory McClendon – were arrested this week for “failure to report with intent to conceal neglect or abuse,” a felony, according to court records obtained by local media. All were reportedly released on bond on Wednesday.

In addition to Lee and McClendon, baseball coach Barry Russell, secondary principal Dana Ellis and assistant secondary principal Matthew Counts were also charged, while city officials told local reporters that a student was arrested for taking part in the purported assault.

Police were called to the school to investigate a possible sexual assault case involving a child in late January. Detectives were told the incident occurred about one week prior during baseball practice at Midland’s MH Christensen Stadium, where the victim said he was abused as part of “freshman initiation day.” He added that he was pushed to the ground in a locker room by fellow students, who “started hitting him” and later “assaulted [him] with a baseball bat,” according to the records.

The affidavit notes that secondary principal Ellis was informed of the assault on January 20 and alerted Lee, the school’s superintendent, the next day. However, instead of bringing the matter to police, Lee allegedly launched an internal investigation, apparently taking no further action. Police allege that emails between school officials also show they were aware of the incident but failed to report it.

The school’s board of trustees responded to the allegations in a statement on Wednesday, confirming the five employees had been arrested and that “school officials have, and will continue to, cooperate with law enforcement and their investigation.”

“The five administrators were notified of an alleged hazing incident involving some of our student-athletes that resulted in school disciplinary action,” wrote the board’s president, Jason Stockstill, adding “The physical, spiritual, and emotional safety of our students is the most important responsibility we bear as educators and one we take seriously.”

On “advice from legal counsel,” however, the president noted that the school would offer no further comment on the incident.

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