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UPDATE: Whitfield Co. high school coach charged with failure to report suspected child abuse

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WHITFIELD COUNTY, GA (WRCB) -

UPDATE: We are learning new details about why a North Georgia coach is facing charges in connection to a rape investigation. 

34-year old Lamar Cofield is accused of knowing about the rape of a young girl at a party and failing to report it.

Investigators say 33-year-old Ashley Turner provided the teens at that party with alcohol. 

Channel 3 wanted to know why the teacher's assistant and coach was just charged with failing to report suspected abuse, when the alleged assault happened in July and deputies tell us the alleged assault wasn't reported to authorities until late September.

Investigators notified the school system on Thursday.
Coach Lamar Cofield resigned the next day.

"We got some information here a few weeks ago about an alleged sexual assault at a party that occurred back in July and the north part of our county," said Sheriff Scott Chitwood.

According to the incident report, the underage victim told officers, while at a party she went to the bathroom. She told authorities a juvenile male then pushed her into the shower and raped her, while she yelled for help. The victim stated that she didn't understand why no adults at the party came to help. 

Officials say Cofield was allegedly at the party for more than an hour and told of the assault. He is charged with failing to report it. 

"Allegedly there was a sexual assault which he failed to report at that time," said Sheriff Chitwood. 

School officials say Cofield has been a teacher's assistant and coach at Northwest High School for several years without incident. 

"We were notified by the Whitfield County Sheriff's office on Thursday afternoon that a Whitfield County Schools employee was going to be charged with failure to report possible child abuse. The incident reportedly happened during the summer and was not a school function," said Dr. Judy Gilreath, Whitfield County Schools Superintendent. 

School officials tell us Cofield had received annual training on the mandatory reporting laws that require school employees to report any alleged abuse. 

"Mr. Cofield is a paraprofessional and a community coach. By Georgia law, all of our teachers and paraprofessionals are mandated reporters.  They receive annual training on what and how to report suspected child abuse.  He resigned from his position with our system on Friday," said Dr. Gilreath. 

"Anytime you have students that are involved, everybody becomes alarmed or very concerned, it's very serious," said Sheriff Chitwood. " Whether it be true or false, an allegation or a true incident, you know these are children....so I think everybody's heart gets involved."

Channel 3 spoke to the father of the teen accused of rape. It's important to note, the teen has not been charged with a crime. His dad says the allegations against his son are not true.

"It's still very much an open investigation, we still ourselves have several following up to do," said Sheriff Chitwood. " Some unanswered questions, so we will see where it leads us."

Both Cofield and Turner are out on a $750 bond, officials say their investigation is ongoing. 


ORIGINAL STORY: A Northwest High School coach has been arrested for failure to report suspected child abuse.

The family of a high school student reported to the Whitfield County Sheriff's Office that the student was raped while attending a party on July 1. 

During the investigation, deputies found that five high school students and a relative of one of the students, 33-year-old Ashley Turner, held the party in the Pleasant Grove area. 

The Sheriff's Office says an employee of the Whitfield County School System, 34-year-old Lamar Cofield, stopped by the party and saw the students drinking alcohol. The Sheriff's Office says Cofield was there when the student told the adults about a sexual assault that happened at the party.

Deputies found that Cofield was at the party for over an hour.

Both Cofield and Turner were arrested on Friday.

Turner is charged with furnishing alcohol to persons under the age of 21.

Cofield is charged with failure to report suspected child abuse.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story. 

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