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OOLTEWAH ASSAULT

UPDATE: What's next for the Ooltewah assault suspects

Posted: Updated:
OOLTEWAH, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: The three defendants in the Ooltewah High School rape case were found guilty on day one of their trial.

Two of the suspects were convicted of reduced charges. 

A family member of the primary victim told Channel 3, the 18-year-old defendant was found guilty of Aggravated Rape and Aggravated Assault. 

She said the other two defendants were found guilty of Aggravated Assault.

The judge would not allow court officials to share the verdict with the media, following the trial Monday.

Since the teenagers were tried in juvenile court their punishment will be much less severe.

Each juvenile court judge has great leniency when it comes to sentencing a teenager found guilty.

Punishment for three defendants in the Ooltewah assault case can range from probation, to jail time but only until their 19th birthdays. That's when jurisdiction ends for juvenile court.

The oldest defendant turned 18 years old while in custody. He was found guilty of both aggravated rape and aggravated assault.

His punishment will be less than a year.

Attorney Eddie Schmidt represents the main victim, whose injuries required emergency surgery, and his family.

"The family that I represent, not only have they left Ooltewah High School but they're about to leave Hamilton County because they don't feel that they can live in that community any longer," Schmidt said.

Schmidt said they plan on filing a civil lawsuit against the Hamilton County Board of Education, saying the coaches are also at fault.

"These coaches were in a position to know what was going on to stop it, to prevent it, to deter it, and they did not do so," Schmidt said. "These events had been building not just for a couple of weeks, not just for a couple of months, but for years. This is almost predictable what happened."

The Hamilton County School District's attorney said the school has insurance to cover liability and protect the school system against claims. The school's exact insurance policy is confidential.

Tennessee state law says the most a governmental agency could be liable for paying one person is $300,000. 

This limit does not apply to lawsuits filed in federal court.

Schmidt said he plans to file the lawsuit within the next seven to 10 days.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story. 


PREVIOUS STORY:  Tuesday marked the first day of the trial for the three juveniles accused of raping a fellow Ooltewah High School teammate with a pool cue in December of 2015.

The judge in the case has denied media requests to be in the courtroom for the trial.

WARNING: The graphic nature of the testimony may not be suitable for all readers.


Follow Channel 3 reporter Kelly McCarthy on Twitter for updates on the trial.


PREVIOUS STORY: The three juvenile suspects charged in the December rape of an Ooltewah freshman basketball player in Gatlinburg, are set to go to trial in Sevier County Juvenile Court, Tuesday. 

READ MORE | Continuing Coverage: Ooltewah Assault

The three suspects are accused of assaulting 4 freshman players with a pool cue in what was initially called a "hazing incident." One of the freshman players had to undergo emergency surgery for his injuries. He was just 15-years-old. 
    
The incident led to charges being filed against the school's athletic director, head basketball coach and volunteer coach who failed to report the sexual assault to the proper authorities. Hamilton County's DA eventually dismissed the charges against Ooltewah High School volunteer coach, Karl Williams. High School athletic director, Jesse Nayadley accepted a pre-trial diversion and he has completed several hours of community service to have his record wiped clean. A grand jury indicted head coach, Andre Montgomery on four counts of failure to report child sexual abuse, the case against him will head back to court on Wednesday.

The court clerk tells Channel 3 Judge Jeff Rader will address the aggravated rape and assault charges Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. Reporters, cameras and phones will not be allowed in the courtroom.

The last time all three Ooltewah rape suspects were in court, the 15-year-old freshman victim who was raped, testified against them saying he believed he got a more aggressive "hazing" because he would "not back down" from the senior on the basketball team. 

The victim's mother says her son had to have a 5-hour emergency surgery to repair his torn bladder. 

"I'm disgusted, I'm at a loss of words. There aren't even words that could explain how I feel how disappointed and let down I am," said the victim's mother.

The senior basketball player who is the primary suspect was 17 at the time. In March,  the senior's attorney said he'd been jailed ever since and has since turned 18, while  awaiting trial. 

The Juvenile Detention Center would not confirm to Channel 3 if he is still being held. 

Several character witnesses last told the judge, the teen is remorseful. Judge Stokes ruled all three suspects would remain in juvenile court so they could have access to the rehabilitation services. 

It's unclear if Gatlinburg Detective Rodney Burns will testify when Judge Rader hears the case on Tuesday. Detective Burns faces perjury charges in Hamilton County, tied to his testimony in a February hearing related to this case.

"The facts were stated, he was held against his will, while someone shoved a pool stick up his behind and they say it slipped...um the detective that I thought was working for my family is up there calling this horseplay," said the victim's mother. " What my son had to die for this to be serious?"

If the three accused teens are found guilty, the could face punishment until their 19th birthdays.

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