Haz­ing not fac­tor in rape at Brain­erd High


Hamilton County Schools said there is no in­di­ca­tion that Wed­nes­day’s al­leged rape at Brain­erd High School was the re­sult of haz­ing.

Su­per­in­ten­dent Bryan Johnson told the Times Free Press on Fri­day that though there is an open, on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the in­ci­dent, there is “no pre­lim­i­nary in­di­ca­tion what­so­ever that haz­ing was in­volved at all.”

A stu­dent re­ported the al­leged rape took place Wed­nes­day af­ter dis­missal on school grounds.

School of­fi­cials then no­ti­fied law en­force­ment and the Depart­ment of Chil­dren Ser­vices and Chattanooga po­lice ar­rested the ac­cused stu­dent that night.

Hamilton County Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s Of­fice spokes­woman Me­ly­dia Clewell said a pe­ti­tion to trans­fer the case to crim­i­nal court will be filed. How­ever, that de­ci­sion will ul­ti­mately be up to a ju­ve­nile court judge and not the DA.

A trans­fer to crim­i­nal court would mean the ju­ve­nile, who is over the age of 14, would be tried as an adult. In crim­i­nal court, rape is con­sid­ered a class B felony, which car­ries a sen­tence of up to 30 years and no less than eight.

Ad­di­tional sup­port staff were at Brain­erd High School on Fri­day and would re­main avail­able to stu­dents and staff in the com­ing weeks, Johnson said.

“There were ad­di­tional coun­selors and sup­port staff and sev­eral mem­bers of the Op­por­tu­nity Zone team on site for a good por­tion of the day, mak­ing sure that stu­dents and teach­ers feel sup­ported,” Johnson said.

In De­cem­ber 2015, a then 15-yearold fresh­man at Oolte­wah High School was raped with a pool cue by team­mates dur­ing a haz­ing in­ci­dent while on a trip to Gatlin­burg with the bas­ket­ball team. The case led to in­ves­ti­ga­tions into a cul­ture of abuse that was ig­nored at the school for decades.

The Hamilton County Sher­iff’s Of­fice also re­opened an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into an al­leged rape of a stu­dent by an­other stu­dent at Hix­son High School in Jan­uary of this year.

The rape was re­ported to have oc­curred af­ter school hours dur­ing the fall of 2017, but the case was re­opened when more de­tails were re­ported by a fam­ily mem­ber of the vic­tim.

Johnson could not con­firm if pro­ce­dures for af­ter-school ac­tiv­i­ties or ac­cess to school grounds would change, but did say the dis­trict would have to be mind­ful of what ac­tiv­i­ties were pro­vided af­ter-school.

“You have af­ter school ac­tiv­i­ties, sports, tu­tor­ing pro­grams, com­mu­nity pro­grams, there’s a bal­ance there be­tween of­fer­ing the pro­gram and en­sur­ing the providers are be­ing re­ally mind­ful,” Johnson said.

Chattanooga Po­lice Depart­ment spokes­peo­ple did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

Con­tact staff writer Rosana Hughes at [email protected]­freep­ress. com or 423-757-6327 with tips or story ideas. Fol­low her on Twit­ter @Hugh­esRosana.

Con­tact staff writer Meghan Mangrum at mman­[email protected] freep­ress.com or 423-757-6592. Fol­low her on Twit­ter @me­man­grum.

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