Police: Coach seen watching student beating
2 other coaches also accused of watching Camden County player being beaten
CAMDEN COUNTY, Ga. – At least one coach can be seen on a Snapchat video watching a junior varsity football player being beaten in a Camden County High locker room, according to a Kingsland Police Department report.
The video, which allegedly shows members of the Camden County High School football team beating a teammate, was sent to News4Jax by a concerned parent, who said it was recorded in the high school's locker room on Labor Day.
According to the police report, the JV player, whose name was not released, said he was at football practice Monday and was assaulted by several teammates in the presence of at least three coaches.
The player told police his teammates were upset with him because the previous Friday at the Camden County vs. Glynn Academy football game he wore a black shirt and sat with his girlfriend, a Glynn Academy cheerleader, on the Glynn Academy side of the field. He had been told to wear a white shirt to the game.
The player told police that two coaches saw him wearing the wrong color shirt and told his teammates that "they need to handle their boy for wearing black."
A video posted to Snapchat shows the JV player being hit and kicked by teammates, who then throw him into a trash can head first and roll him down the hallway in the Camden County High locker room, according to the report. The beating happened about noon Monday after practice, and the student ended up at Southeast Georgia Health Systems Camden Campus in St. Mary's, Georgia, where he reported the assault to police.
The player told police that three coaches were present during the assault, and one of those coaches kicked over the trash can so the player could get out after he was rolled down the hallway.
At least one of the three coaches can be seen in the video watching the altercation, police said.
The player's family has retained an attorney. A family friend told News4Jax the player has not returned to school since the assault.
News4Jax spoke with parents of junior varsity football players outside of Thursday's game.
Many of them said they were disappointed and embarrassed for the school. Others said they are waiting for more of the investigation to come out.
"It's an excellent school system, all the way from the top, down. It's a great football team. To me it's a little bit shocking to have seen that," said Chuck Wilson, a father of two daughters who attend the school.
News4Jax also spoke to a board member of the teams' quarterback club. Boyd Way's sons are in Camden County High School's football program and he's been working with the team for 30 years.
"I don't condone these types of things but discipline, I think is the way of taking care of it. And I think the school has done that," said Way.
The reports of the beating led Clayton Leadbeater to start a a change.org petition calling for the players involved in the assault to be removed from the team and the coaches to be fired. Many people have also taken to social media and are calling for the players to be suspended from the school and kicked off the team.
"Maybe that will carry on throughout Georgia and possibly throughout the rest of the country as far as trying to put a stop to bullying," Leadbeater said.
He said seeing the video reminded him of a rough time in high school and he felt inspired to act. He said he was appalled by the idea that coaches allegedly watched the beating.
"They're the grown-ups," Leadbeater said. "They're the ones who are supposed to be acting like grown-ups, not like animals."
School district officials said their investigation found no wrongdoing by the coaches but the district is cooperating with law enforcement.
"They could be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor because they're all under 18 years old, and they actually encouraged this (according to the report)," News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said. "It's very disappointing to see that."
As more people sign the petition, the support for the victim continues to grow. That's a message Leadbeater hopes the community understands.
"People out there do care and everybody should have that basic freedom to wear whatever shirt they want and support who they want," he said. "And not have to get any ridicule or assault out of it."
Kingsland police have turned the investigation over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations.
Will Hardin, the superintendent of schools for the Camden County School Board, said four students have "received consequences" for their roles in the incident but was not specific about the nature of the consequences.
He responded to the allegations with the following statement:
"A report was made to school officials regarding an incident occurring in the varsity locker room at Camden County High School on Monday, September 7, 2015. The incident involved students at Camden High School who harassed one of their classmates and fellow football players. The matter was brought to the attention of school officials on Tuesday when an investigation was launched which included an interview with the student who was singled out, his parents, students who were present at the time, and coaches. As a result of the investigation, four students received consequences for their participation in the incident. The investigation into the incident by school officials was thorough and complete and did not indicate any wrongdoing by adults. School officials are cooperating fully with law enforcement and, should their investigation reveal new evidence that adults were complicit in any of the events that occurred, they will be held accountable for their actions."
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