GRUNDY COUNTY, Tenn. – Five football players have been charged with attempted aggravated rape after an incident in the Grundy County High School football field house on Wednesday morning.
Sheriff Clint Shrum said the incident happened between 5 and 6 a.m. on Wednesday. Eight players, including the victim, arrived at the school to work out. Shrum said five of the players participated in the event. Two other players were in another room of the field house when the incident occurred and have not been charged.
Shrum said during a news conference while the players worked out, they started wrestling. One player grabbed a dust mop with a metal handle and began tapping the victim with it on the leg. The victim is a 15-year-old freshman at the school.
The victim was later held down by the players and had his shorts pulled down. The players attempted to insert the mop handle into the victim.
One of the players present took a video of the incident on his phone. He voluntarily turned it over to police. The phone is now being analyzed by the TBI.
“We’re not investigating any hazing,” Shrum said. “We’re not classifying it as hazing. We’re classifying it as attempted aggravated rape.
“The perspective that people take in on hazing, a lot of people looked at it as an initiation. This goes far beyond what an initiation would be,” Shrum added.
An assistant football coach reported the incident to the Grundy County High School SRO after hearing about the incident around 10 a.m.
Shrum said he and members of his department and the school principal interviewed each of the players with their parents at the time of the incident.
“We specifically asked this question to every one of them: ‘Did you have to go through the same thing?’ And every one of them said no,” Shrum said. “So there you go. I just don’t know why they did it.”
The five players will be placed under house arrest until a hearing in Grundy County Juvenile Court on Monday at 10 a.m.
The players were all between the ages of 15 and 17 years of age.
When asked if the teenagers were remorseful, Shrum hesitated before saying there were “some tears.”
“I don’t know that they were remorseful,” he said. “What I think was, and what I feel like, and I’ve had 25 years law enforcement experience, was, ‘we’re caught.’”
Grundy County head football coach Casey Tate has been suspended from coaching duties after the incident, according to director of schools Jessie Kinsey. Assistant coach Greg Brewer has been named the interim coach. Brewer previously served as head coach at the school from 1998-2000 and again in 2005 and 2006.
“GCHS head football coach Casey Tate is suspended from coaching pending further investigation into new information provided today,” Kinsey said in a statement. “Assistant coach Greg Brewer will assume the role of head coach during this suspension.”
Shrum said he has received multiple messages from the community saying they want him to “do something” and do “the right thing,” a definition that’s different for everyone.
“We’re doing the right thing, and we’ll continue this,” he said. “We’ll make sure that justice is done.”
Shrum said he does not believe the students had permission to be in the field house as early as they were to work out alone. He said they may have wedged a door open after practice the night before.
Grundy County’s football team is scheduled to play a region game on Friday at Upperman.
Investigators spent Wednesday afternoon interviewing students, teachers and parents.
Kinsey said students would be punished according to the district’s handbook.
The incident has also been referred to the Department of Children’s Services for review.
Shrum said more charges may follow.