High school coach suspended after boy with autism duct-taped to goal

Wednesday October 8th, 2014

A Pennsylvania high school soccer coach and two of his players have been suspended after a student with autism was found duct-taped to a goalpost, according to KDKA-TV.

Sixteen-year-old Austin Babinsack, a student at Highlands High School in Natrona Heights, Pa., was duct-taped to the goalpost by two 17-year-old classmates and members of the school soccer team on Sunday night. He was left there for 15 to 20 minutes until passers-by noticed and freed him.

Jim Turner, the soccer coach, and the two students have been suspended for at least five days. Police are investigating the incident.

“He was terrified, he could have died, he could have had a heart attack from being so stressed out, he was screaming at the top of his lungs,” mother Kristy Babinsack says.

Babinsack says Austin is autistic.

“They duct taped my hands, my legs, all the way up to my waist, and then they attempted to try to take a picture of it. I told them no, and they walked off disappointed,” Austin said.

In a statement, the Highlands School District said it "does not take matters such as hazing and bullying lightly."

Austin told KDKA on Tuesday night that he planned to return to school on Wednesday.

The news comes as a hazing scandal has enveloped the football team at Sayreville High School in New Jersey. The football season has been canceled and local authorities are conducting a criminal investigation.

Ben Estes

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide — from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Grant Wahl, Andy Staples and more — delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.