Five Arrested at Christian School For Covering Up Sexual Assault: Police

Police in West Texas have arrested five employees at a Christian school on charges that they failed to report an alleged sexual assault on a student during a baseball practice and tried to hide evidence.

Police on February 16 arrested three administrators and two coaches at Midland Christian School on charges of failing to report abuse with intent to conceal, according to a press release the Midland Police Department provided to Newsweek.

A report released by the U.S. Education Department in 2020 found the number of incidents of sexual violence in k-12 schools increased 55 percent between the 2015-2016 school year and 2017-2018. The number of incidents rose from 9,649 to 14,938 during that time period. However, the report found that Texas was among the lowest rates of students experiencing sexual assault.

The department said the investigation is ongoing and no further updates were available.

The press release did not identify the individuals arrested. But arrest affidavits obtained by KWES-TV show that school superintendent Jared Lee, secondary principal Dana Ellis, athletic director Gregory McClenden, assistant principal and coach Matthew Counts and baseball coach Barry Russell were all interviewed regarding an alleged sexual assault.

Locker room
Five officials at a Christian school in Texas face charges for allegedly trying to cover up abuse of a student that occurred in a locker room. piovesempre/Getty Images

The television station provided additional details of the incident that it described as hazing that took place at the school's stadium in January. The unidentified victim, later interviewed by the Children's Advocacy Center, was in the locker room when the lights were turned off and another student told him that it was "freshman initiation day."

The victim was then struck and pushed to the ground while being screamed at, according to KWES-TV. He attempted to fight back but was told to stop. The victim was then sexually assaulted using a bat, reports the television station, citing an affidavit.

After authorities contacted Lee, he told police he would not turn over requested documents about the incident and refused to answer questions, according to KWES-TV. Lee had also instructed McClendon and Counts to investigate the incident, the station reported.

Police served a search warrant on the school on February 14, but investigators only found "notes" that had been written days before and showed no formal investigation had been underway, reports KMID-TV. Investigators were also provided school emails showing that a sexual assault had occurred and administrators refused to report the incident to authorities, according to the station.

One unidentified juvenile has been arrested in connection with the incident, according to the station. The five school officials have been released on a $5,000 bond.

Midland Christian School told Newsweek in a statement that it was trying to provide transparency while protecting the privacy of students during these "difficult circumstances."

The statement acknowledged that five administrators were notified of an alleged hazing incident that resulted in discipline and that police had contacted the school regarding it.

"Our school officials have, and will continue to, cooperate with law enforcement and their investigation," said the statement. "Currently, we have qualified acting administrators to supervise the campus, oversee student activities, support faculty, and maintain the day-to-day operation of the school."