"If I heard a detective testify like that, and I was a victim, I - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

"If I heard a detective testify like that, and I was a victim, I'd be very hesitant to come forward."

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Much attention has been brought to the testimony of the Gatlinburg Police detective in charge of investigating the Ooltewah basketball rape case.

Detective Rodney Burns testified in a preliminary hearing Monday about the attack on a 15-year-old freshman basketball player by a fellow senior player.

District Attorney General Neal Pinkston accused him of minimizing the attack.

Channel 3 spoke with a licensed clinical social worker who agreed with Pinkston's impressions of the detective's testimony.

He hopes the detective's demeanor does not affect other victims in unrelated cases, who may have been watching, from speaking up.
"The whole thing lasted about 20 to 30 seconds and as soon as it busted through, and went inside of him, they said, 'Oh!' The main one said, 'Oh beep!' dropped the pool stick and they left. There was no, rape, torture. There's no screams of anguish," testified Detective Burns in Monday's hearing.

Throughout Detective Rodney Burns' testimony he reiterated, in his opinion, the attack on the freshman player was not rape.
"It wasn't sexual in nature. It was an assault, really. It just happened that the end result met the definition of aggravated rape. You know what I mean?"

Burns even eluded to the strength of the victim's clothing, implying that affected the outcome of the attack.
"This young man had on a thin pair of knit sweatpants, that were pretty well-wore, and a very thin pair of underwear. It poked through his clothing, where it didn't poke through the other ones, and he was injured," testified Burns.

"He tried to minimize the fact that it was a sexual-related crime when in fact, I'm not a legal expert, but most experts on rape will tell you that sex is not the major motive anyway. It has to do with dominance and control and humiliation," said Tom Bissonette.

Tom Bissonette is a licensed social worker and runs a non-profit.

"We do a lot of training with young people on hazing and bullying. And this is all of those things. But it's more. It's a violent crime," said Bissonette.

He says the focus should be on helping the victim recover.
"My feelings go out for the victim because it's like they're rationalizing it away."

He says the detective's testimony can have a lasting impact on unrelated cases.
"If I heard a detective testify like that, and I was a victim, I'd be very hesitant to come forward," said Bissonette.

He says there needs to be serious reform on educating young people.
"I think that we need to address the issue of violence and hazing in a more effective way."

Bissonette's non-profit is traveling to Pennsylvania next month to talk to more than  1,000 high schoolers about issues impacting them, including bullying and hazing.

Assistant Ooltewah Coach Karl Williams, Head Coach Andre Montgomery, and Athletic Director Jesse Nayadley all pleaded not guilty to charges of failing to report child sexual abuse.

A judge sent the case against them to a grand jury. The three will be booked in the county jail in the next few weeks. 

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