Hearing held in Tennessee high school basketball rape case | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Hearing held in Tennessee high school basketball rape case

August 30, 2016 - 1:47 PM

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. - Three Tennessee high school basketball players were in juvenile court Tuesday to face charges that they raped a freshman teammate in an apparent hazing incident.

The Sevier County Juvenile Court clerk's office confirmed a hearing for the Ooltewah High School players was scheduled for Tuesday. Although the hearing was closed to the media, witnesses were seen walking in and out of the courtroom throughout the day.

The three defendants face aggravated rape charges. Gatlinburg police say three Ooltewah players assaulted a freshman Dec. 22. Police say the boy required emergency surgery after older teammates held him down and assaulted him with a pool cue.

Sevier County Juvenile Court Judge Jeffrey Rader ruled Tuesday that the hearing would be closed "except to those persons having a direct interest in the case."

Rader's ruling noted that opening the hearing to the public "could result in irreparable harm to the juvenile defendants" if they were to prevail. Rader also noted that it's common practice to shield the identity of alleged victims of sex offences and that the court anticipated the hearing would include discussion of investigative records and Department of Children's Service records "that are generally deemed confidential in nature."

Sevier County Judge Dwight Stokes rejected prosecutors' attempts in March to have one defendant transferred to adult court.

Rader also mentioned in his ruling that Gatlinburg police detective Rodney Burns "was unable to testify" Tuesday because of the aggravated perjury charges he faces in Hamilton County, where Ooltewah is located, regarding the case.

According to an indictment filed against Burns in May, the detective testified there were no "screams of anguish" during the incident, even though his written police reports noted that witnesses said they could hear the victim yelling. The indictment also says there was a discrepancy in Burns' testimony about whether he tried to call other officials and report the case.

Burns' perjury case involves testimony he offered at a Feb. 15 preliminary hearing in Hamilton County for three Ooltewah High officials who were facing charges of failing to report suspected child sex abuse to the proper authorities.

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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