School board members react to Ooltewah assault court hearing
HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -
The case against three Ooltewah High school staff members charged with failure to report a sexual assault will be sent to a grand jury.
Basketball coach Andre Montgomery, Assistant Coach Karl Williams and Athletic Director Jesse Nayadley each pleaded not guilty to the charge of failing to report child abuse.
"There's nothing casual about the events that took place, and did the coaches know? Hopefully not. I don't think they did," said school board member Steve Highlander.
After six witnesses and four hours of testimony, Juvenile Court Judge Rob Philyaw decided to send the charges against the three adult supervisors to the grand jury.
Several Hamilton County school board members sat in the audience listening to the new details in court.
"The fact that there were more than one victims in this and that things have been going on that we may have known were going on but turned a blind eye to.." said Donna Horn.
Judge Philyaw acknowledged the mandatory reporter law is hard to interpret, and his decision was difficult to make.
Some board members believe the adults in Gatlinburg did the best they could to handle the situation.
"Listen I coached for almost 40 years and I would have done the same thing they did," Board Member Joe Galloway said, "I would have taken care of the child, I would dismissed the people from the team who were the perpetrators and I would have told the authorities."
"Probably they did what they thought was correct but it wasn't technically in line with the law," Highlander said.
After hearing Rick Smith's testimony in court, Galloway says he doesn't believe Smith did to breach his contract.
"And so for that reason, if he's going to leave we're going to have to buy him out, he's not going to resign, why would he? He hadn't done anything wrong," Galloway said.
Smith told board members he would submit his resignation and enter into buyout negotiations after being scrutinized for the way he handled this Ooltewah assault case publicly.
"That's another reason why I wanted to come today, so that i can clear up in my head how I was going to vote on a buyout, I still have not come to any resolution on that," Horn said.
Smith still has not formally submitted his resignation to the board.