Hamilton County Juvenile Justice Takes A Sharp Left Into Crazytown
Jan. 18, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — The last time I wrote about the horrific assault of an Ooltewah, Tennessee teenager over the Christmas holiday by three of his basketball teammates, I mused the following in an update to the story.
[N]o clairvoyance or trial experience is necessary to know more heads will reach the chopping block long before the Defendants’ day in court.
I didn’t expect it to take less than a week from publication, and I didn’t expect a judge to brush aside confidentiality laws that could put the three juvenile defendants’ lives in danger. Yet this is the scene in Hamilton County Juvenile Court as District Attorney General Neal Pinkston and Juvenile Court Judge Rob Philyaw prepare Ooltewah High School Basketball Coach Andre “Tank” Montgomery, Assistant Coach Karl Williams, and Athletic Director Jesse Nayadley for the guillotine.
The three are to be brought before Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Rob Philyaw next Thursday at 9 a.m. to answer why they did not report instances of child abuse.
County School [Superintendent] Rick Smith said Thursday night the three are suspended without pay pending the completion of the investigation.
The Complaint, filed by District Attorney General Neal Pinkston, includes an affidavit from Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department Detective Mickey Rountree accusing Montgomery, Williams, and Nayadley of not notifying the Department of Children’s Services, law enforcement officials, or the “juvenile court judge having jurisdiction over the children” as soon as the three were notified of apparent allegations of sexual assault. The alleged crimes the three committed are violations of Tennessee’s Mandatory Reporting laws on child abuse and child sexual abuse.
Both statutes listed in Detective Rountree’s Affidavit require individuals who either render aid to a suspected victim of child abuse or sexual abuse to “immediately” report the abuse or allegations of abuse to the Department of Children’s Services, the chief law enforcement official “of the municipality where the child resides,” or “the juvenile court judge having jurisdiction” over the child.” If you are a “school teacher, school official or other school personnel” and there’s allegations of sexual abuse, you must “immediately” report it to the same groups. Because the three juvenile defendants were charged in Sevier County, Tennessee with Aggravated Rape and Aggravated Assault, and the incident allegedly happened while Montgomery, Williams and Nayadley had the defendants in their care, they weren’t allowed to do things like make sure a horribly injured child would receive appropriate medical care first. No, according to Detective Rountree, the first thing they needed to do was pick up the phone and tell people there were “allegations of sexual assault.”
No such phone call happened at any time, according to Detective Rountree and District Attorney General Pinkston.
DA Pinkston said the coach nor the athletic director notified the Department of Children’s Services or any law enforcement after the incident happened.
The filing also says no one from the Hamilton County Department of Education made the required filing.
Pinkston and Rountree, in their rush to prosecute more parties in the “interests of justice,” seem to forget Sevier County Juvenile Court and the Gatlinburg Police Department asked the Hamilton County School Board and the Hamilton County Department of Education to remain silent on the matter and not fan flames of public speculation that might impede that jurisdiction’s efforts. They also seem to have forgotten Hamilton County Superintendent Rick Smith and Hamilton County School Board Chairman Jonathan Welch issued public statements to that effect.
These new adult defendants were simply following the requests of Sevier County law enforcement and courts, and are now being punished for that compliance in their home county.
If you’re wondering why no other school officials are facing Judge Rob Philyaw along with Montgomery, Williams and Nayadley, you’re simply not following Pinkston’s rationale of “sports culture is violent culture and it needs to stop,” according to a press release issued by the Hamilton County District Attorney’s office.
Additionally, we are investigating allegations of an ingrained culture of violence among the football and basketball teams at OHS reaching back several years. As we interview potential victims who are former OHS players, if the evidence is sufficient to meet the state’s legal burden of proof, charges will be filed for those incidents as well.
Unfortunately for General Pinkston and his subordinates, “ingrained culture of violence” isn’t listed anywhere in Tennessee’s statutes as a criminal offense. It’s not to be found anywhere in Title 37 or Title 39 of the Tennessee Code. This is steaming, disingenuous horse shit fed to a scared public by an elected official.
It’s not shocking to see a District Attorney General attempt to pander to the public’s desires. What shocks me is that General Pinkston took the added step of requesting the court files for this case be made public, and Judge Philyaw actually approved this horrendous request.
General Pinkston filed a motion in Juvenile Court requesting all filings in this case be made public due to the overwhelming public interest in this case. Judge Rob Philyaw verbally approved the motion which means the filings are available at Juvenile Court.
Juvenile Court Judge Rob Philyaw, in casually ignoring the confidentiality laws concerning Juvenile Court files, has forgotten that fillings contain information like names and addresses. “All filings in this case” being made public now has the names, dates of birth, and addresses of the three juvenile defendants in the pending Sevier County Juvenile Court case as well as the addresses of Montgomery, Williams, and Nayadley waiting for public consumption at the Hamilton County Courthouse.
Judge Philyaw’s unforgivable lapse of judgment now means the three juvenile defendants as well as Montgomery, Williams and Nayadley, face the potential of physical attacks from outraged parents and community members seeking retaliation. At bare minimum, the juvenile and adult defendants will have their every move tracked by throngs of reporters seeking extra information or comments in the name of “public interest.” The three children will forever be branded as “rapists” long before their day in court thanks to the actions of a man tasked with ensuring the health and welfare of Hamilton County, Tennessee’s children.
“Public Interest” doesn’t trump the codified laws of the state. Judge Rob Philyaw and District Attorney General Neal Pinkston don’t seem to care too much for that principle. That disregard carries with it dire consequences, and more should expected to come as the Hamilton County Juvenile Justice system has taken a sharp left turn into crazytown.