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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.

One reply on “Breaking News: East Carter basketball coach quits in Missouri”

The hazing incident that happened during the basketball camp at Lyons College is a tragedy that will haunt many lives for years to come. Most people have no idea what the parents of these victims are feeling. We can only try to put ourselves in their shoes, and think about how we might react if it had been our child put in that position. The boys who were victimized were terrorized for 4 days. The fact that Lyons college say they knew nothing about what was going on just proves, in my opinion, the lack of supervision in place during this basketball camp. When you have 22 boys on a floor in a dorm room, and they are screaming for someone to stop, and to leave them alone, wouldn’t you at least check to see what they were doing? I think I would have at the very least gone up to the floor they were on and asked them to settle down.

The parents have tried to be patient and let the authorities handle the situation. The last thing they want is to traumatize their sons even further by causing a huge media circus. The boys already have had to deal with lewd comments from athletes from other schools during baseball games (Van Buren athletes I think). How much worse are those comments going to be when they are fact-to-face on a basketball court? It is sad that a handful of boys made very stupid decisions and put a cloud over an entire school. I wish people would realize that the actions of those 6 boys do not reflect the actions of the other 750+ students at East Carter.

It is my desire for parents and coaches to talk to their athletes and children about the effects their comments can have on other people. If people would consider how they would be feeling if it were their children or grandchildren involved in such a horrific event, I don’t think there would be as much gossiping, or taunting from either side.

The authorities in Arkansas have been less than cooperative in providing the information required of their own Victims Rights Laws. It is my desire that the media would be able to help the victims and their parents in finding out why it has taken over two months to file charges, and why evidence seems to be evaporating into thin air between offices in Arkansas. It is a sad day in America when victims are treated as the enemy when trying to find out information from elected public officials who are put into office to represent and protect the law-abiding citizens that put them there in the first place.

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