DCS confirms involvement in Crockett hazing investigation

Nathan Baker • Updated Aug 4, 2015 at 9:24 PM

A Tennessee Department of Children’s Services spokesperson confirmed Monday the agency’s involvement in an investigation into allegations of hazing and sexual assault at a religious football camp that so far have resulted in four David Crockett High School students’ suspensions.

Rob Johnson, DCS director of communications, said a call to the department’s hotline reporting an incident at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes football camp at Cookeville’s Tennessee Technological University two weeks ago prompted an investigation by the department.

That call was placed by a school administrator, Washington County Director of Schools Ron Dykes said, shortly after the district and the Johnson City Press received emails on July 23 from an anonymous tipster claiming freshman football players were pinned down while older students rubbed their genitals on the younger boys’ faces.

More than 60 Crockett football players attended the team-building workshop organized by the FCA in mid-July, attending religious services and athletic practices while staying in the college’s on-campus dorms.

School administrators previously said the incident likely occurred in the dorms, where the students and their chaperones slept on different floors.

With Children’s Services investigators assigned to the case, Johnson said the matter could be explored by a child protective investigation team, provided for by state law.

The child protective investigation team, or CPIT, is statutorily comprised of law enforcement members, prosecutors, DCS workers and children’s advocacy representatives, and is tasked with investigating allegations of child abuse and determining whether children are still under threat.

Speaking generally, Johnson said if the DCS and CPIT investigations reveal evidence of a crime, law enforcement and the district attorney general’s office holding jurisdiction could decide to pursue charges.

Calls to the district attorney general’s office in Putnam County, where Tennessee Tech is located, were not returned Monday. A representative of the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department said the department was not involved in the investigation.

James Murphy, Washington County Schools’ secondary director of attendance and discipline, said two seniors and two underclassmen have so far been remanded to alternative school after the district’s own investigation.

A disciplinary hearing, which will take place within 10 school days of the upcoming start of the academic year, will determine if the alternative school punishment will stand, or if the severity will be increased or decreased, Murphy said.

If it stands, the suspended students will not be allowed to set foot on campus, nor can they participate in school athletics or activities.

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