Criminal investigation opened in Huntsville Schools ‘baptizing’ case

KNWA

HUNTSVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A criminal investigation has been opened in a Huntsville case involving possible sexual assault concerning the boys basketball team.

Prosecuting Attorney Matt Durrett said he knows the Madison Co. Sheriff’s Office is involved in the investigation, but others could also join. He said the sheriff’s office let him know of its involvement. Sheriff Rick Evans did not respond to

“In situations of high public interest, it’s not unusual for a law enforcement agency to reach out to me just to give me a heads up that they’re going to open an investigation,” Durrett said.

Title IX documents show Huntsville basketball players put their genitals into teammates’ mouths, calling it “baptizing.” Last week, KNWA/Fox24 reported more students came forward to start an internal investigation after the initial one ended.

Durrett said he couldn’t go into detail about the case itself.

“We have an obligation to protect a defendant’s right to a fair trial to make sure that you don’t taint a potential jury pool,” Durrett said.

Huntsville Police Chief Todd Thomas said he can’t comment on the investigation but provided a statement.

“The investigation is in its infancy, and we don’t want to release any information that could jeopardize a potential prosecution in this case,” Thomas said.

Benjamin Rightsell’s son is a middle-school basketball player, and he said he’s happy a criminal investigation’s been opened.

“It just made me happy to see there’s finally, finally something happening,” Rightsell said. “I was fairly certain it wasn’t going to be. I know there’s quite a bit of conflict of interest.”

Rightsell said he and other parents plan to make their voices heard at a Monday school board meeting.

“We’re not gonna let this just slide off into the past,” Rightsell said. “Something has to be done.”

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