Oregon police to probe if Alaska football coach hit player
A police department in Oregon will investigate whether an Alaska assistant high school football coach assaulted a player on a school-sponsored team trip to a summer camp last year.
Police in Juneau announced Monday they are turning the investigation over to the Gold Beach, Ore., Police Department to determine if a Thunder Mountain High School coach assaulted a player during an informal boxing match on the trip.
Juneau police spokesman Sgt. Chris Burke said that his department conducted a preliminary investigation and will continue to have a role because most witnesses are in Alaska.
"We are going to assist them in anything they need in their investigation," Burke said.
Gold Beach Police Chief Dixon Andrews will determine if there was a criminal violation, the department said in an announcement.
Two Juneau football coaches were placed on administrative leave over the weekend.
School administrators said they reported the matter to police after learning of the boxing match.
One piece of evidence police are looking at is grainy video that appears to show the incident. It was posted on YouTube but has since been removed by the website as a violation of its anti-bullying policy.
The video showed a boxing match with two people wearing gloves. The smaller boxer was hit in the face. After turning away, the smaller boxer was punched from behind and floored as those watching cheered. It's not clear who shot the video.
The boy's father told the Juneau Empire, which first reported the story, he was provided a copy of the video by Juneau school officials when he was called in to be told of the incident by Thunder Mountain principal Dan Larson and a Juneau Police Department school resource officer. The Associated Press is not identifying the father or son because the boy is a minor who might be the victim of a crime. Attempts to reach the father Monday were not immediately successful.
Juneau School District administrators on Sunday said they had just found out about the incident.
"We are deeply concerned about these allegations and the details that are emerging regarding this incident," Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich said in a statement. "We are concerned further that this incident went unreported for nearly nine months. The Juneau School District has higher expectations of our staff and coaches who we entrust with our students."?
The school district has not identified the coaches on leave.
Juneau Police Sgt. Burke told the Empire that school administrators filed a complaint with the department and made them aware of the video.
Thunder Mountain head football coach Bill Byouer was on the Oregon trip but said he was not aware of any video. He heard about it, he said, from a Juneau Empire reporter.
"I think that what we have is a set of allegations that, if true, are very disturbing and that would not meet our expectations," Gelbrich told the Empire. "But what we have to do is we have to establish what the facts are. We certainly have been told how people characterize what went on there and, if that is true, than obviously we are very disturbed by that."
Gelbrich said once school officials have established the facts in the case, "we'll take the appropriate action. If these things are true than obviously we have some pretty serious work to do."