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Breaking News: East Carter basketball coach quits in Missouri

E. Carter coach quits in wake of hazing charges
New 8.17.07
East Carter County boys basketball coach Benji Stahl has resigned following charges that several athletes under his supervision were involved in a sexual hazing crime in Arkansas.

Stahl coached the Redbirds for three seasons and was a member of the 1997 team that won the school’s only state basketball championship. In June, Stahl accompanied 22 athletes to a basketball camp in Batesville, Ark., where the alleged incidents of hazing took place over several nights and during lunch breaks. Five students have been charged in Arkansas’ 16th Judicial District; a court date has not been set.

Preston Hoagland, a former asssistant coach at Winona, has been hired for the basketball job.

Backgrounder from the Batesville newspaper
Five charged in college hazing
By Tony McGuffey Guard Staff Writer
News | Published on Thursday August 2, 2007

Charges against five Missouri boys allegedly involved in sexual related hazing incidents during a local basketball camp will be filed in juvenile court.

The announcement of the filing was made by 16th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Don McSpadden Wednesday afternoon.

“I’ve talked with the State Prosecutors Coordinator’s Office, my deputy prosecutors and others in the legal field, and I feel this is a case of hazing by older boys (15-16) who are bullies,” McSpadden said.

The boys, all athletes with the East Carter County R2 school district in Ellsinore, Mo., are accused of sexual hazing of younger boys during a basketball camp held at Lyon College June 10-13.

According to reports filed in Missouri and Independence County, there were nine victims, ages 13 and 14.

“They said the hazing happened during the lunch hour in the dorms and late at night after the counselors had all gone to bed,” Investigator Brenda Bittle said. “The older students reportedly told the younger victims that they had to go through the hazing in order to get on the basketball team.

“Some of the incidents were caught on video on students’ cell phones and a parent of one of the students later found the video,” Bittle said.

Once the charges are filed, some of the students allegedly involved are expected to be escorted to Batesville by their parents to appear in juvenile court, according to McSpadden.

“I didn’t file this as a sexual crime,” McSpadden said. “There appeared to be no sexual gratification, just boys being mean.”

A court date for the boys has not been announced at this time.

Lyon College authorities said they were unaware of the alleged hazing until Missouri notified them after the camp had ended and the boys had gone home.

The camp, which has run successfully for 22 years, is supervised by counselors, coaches accompanying the campers, and the camp director, said Bob Qualls, Lyon director of public relations and communications.

Some of the athletes attending the camp reside in college residence halls, Qualls said. There were 81 residential campers at this year’s camp. The campers from the Missouri school in question were housed in Hoke-McCain Residence Hall.

A coach from the Missouri school, East Carter, had a room on the first floor of the hall. There were three camp counselors on the third floor where the campers from the East Carter school were staying. There was a 10:30 curfew and a room-check every night, Qualls said.

“The incident was not reported to the college’s coaches, counselors or staff during the camp,” Qualls said. “College officials learned of the alleged incident five days after the camp ended, on June 18, when contacted by the East Carter School District superintendent.

“The college will continue to cooperate with authorities investigating the situation.”

A phone call to Carter County Sheriff Greg Melton was not immediately returned this morning.

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. In April of 2024, the Alaska Press Club awarded him first place in the Best Columnist division and Best Humorist, second place.

He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily--http://realalaskadaily.com and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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