Police on Wednesday arrested Midland Christian School’s superintendent along with four other staff members. According to arrest affidavits, top administrators and staff were aware of an alleged incident where a high school baseball player was sexually assaulted by a classmate. Investigators say the superintendent and staff failed to report the incident to the proper authorities and worked to conceal it.
By Mitch Borden
Midland Christian School’s Superintendent Jared Lee was arrested on Wednesday after police say he and his staff allegedly concealed the sexual assault of a student for weeks. Now, Lee and four of his colleagues, including a principal and vice-principal at the private school, face felony charges.
According to an arrest affidavit, Midland Police were alerted to a potential sexual assault at Midland Christian and began an investigation on Jan. 28. An investigator interviewed the student who was assaulted and in the interview, the student said he was attacked following a baseball practice around Jan. 20.
The student recounted walking into a locker room when the lights were suddenly turned off. A teammate then began to beat him, pushed him to the ground and then he was sexually assaulted with a baseball bat, according to the affidavit. The high school student told investigators, he remembered people screaming all around him, and as he tried to defend himself, he was told that he could not “hit back.”
Investigators visited Midland Christian on Feb. 11 to meet with Superintendent Lee about the incident, but the superintendent was not there when they arrived. Officers spoke with Secondary School Principal Dana Ellis, who admitted she had known about the potential assault since Jan. 20. By state law, teachers and administrators are required to report possible cases of abuse or neglect to law enforcement or other authorities within 48 hours.
Ellis told police the school staff had conducted an internal investigation into the alleged assault instead of contacting law enforcement.
When officers requested documents from the school’s investigation, Superintendent Lee refused to release them until he was presented with a search warrant. Once a warrant was acquired, police were able to examine emails exchanged among Midland Christian staff and found the administration “continually attempted to conceal the incident or abuse from authorities.”
The Midland Police Department has brought felony charges against Supterindent Lee, Principal Ellis, Vice Principal Matthew Counts, Athletic Director Greg McClendon and Baseball Coach Barry Russell. Each felony charge carries a sentence of up to two years in jail. According to a city spokesperson, a juvenile has also been arrested in connection to the case.
Midland Christian’s School Board President, Jason Stockstill released a statement in response to the five arrests.
He wrote, “While we value and desire transparency, we must protect the privacy of our students and maintain the best educational environment possible under these difficult circumstances.”
According to Stockstill, the school had taken disciplinary actions in response to what he described as a “hazing incident.”
He then continued, “The physical, spiritual, and emotional safety of our students is the most important responsibility we bear as educators and one we take seriously.”