EXCLUSIVE: ‘I think a whole bunch of people need to be fired.’ Huntsville student says ‘baptizing’ continued after investigations started

KNWA

HUNTSVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — In Huntsville, a possible sexual assault situation has grown into a criminal investigation. This week, a student who said he witnessed up to eight people “baptize” or “bean dip” teammates said he thinks many administrators should be fired for mishandling investigations.

Title IX documents showed claims that boys basketball players put their genitals and private parts into teammates mouths while others held the victims down, calling it “baptizing” or “bean dipping.” This went on for a number of years and happened as celebratory acts after victories, according to a Huntsville student who exclusively spoke to KNWA/Fox24 and wished to remain anonymous.

“They’d just randomly say, ‘Oh, you’re doing it today,'” the student said. “Some people would sit on people’s faces. Some other people would put their [genitals] in people’s faces.”

The student, who said he was interviewed in the initial Title IX investigation, said teammates told him they’d paid $20 a week to save themselves from the abuse. That investigation was closed with two students receiving minor punishments, while another Title IX investigation’s been opened alongside a criminal investigation. The student said abusers knew they’d face trouble and threatened others not to tell.

“I got some threats,” the student said. “[They said] ‘Don’t tell anybody, or we’re coming after you.'”

The abuse didn’t stop after the investigations were opened, the student said.

“They still do it,” he said.

Though only two students were found liable in investigations thus far, the student said he saw at least eight people “baptize” teammates over the last couple years. He said they also asked him to do it, but he refused and tried to help smaller players.

“It came around at the end of the year, it started happening more and more,” the student said. “Then I just quit sports altogether.”

The student’s mother said she refutes comments she’s seen online blaming parents for not doing more. She said she called the DHS hotline and other agencies but was met with inaction.

“We stood up and we tried to report, we tried to go further,” the mother said. “Whenever we did, they’d contact the school, the school would say, ‘Hearsay, rumors, lies,’ and wouldn’t do anything about it.”

The student’s mother, who also wished to stay anonymous, said she’d call this sexual abuse instead of assault. She said the abusers haven’t faced true consequences.

“The ones that actually did it are still playing ball,” she said. “[They’re playing] different sports. One even went to State this year.”

The family decided to speak out in an interview after leaders in a school board meeting this week called some of the reported details “misinformation.” The student said he plans to return to school in the fall, but he doesn’t have faith in the people making decisions.

“I love where I live, but after this, it just made me lose respect for the coaches and the players,” the student said.

The student said he’ll never play sports again even if changes are made, but he’s clear about what he thinks should happen.

“I think a whole bunch of people need to be fired,” the student said.

Throughout this process, leaders have declined to comment on the situation. This isn’t the only controversy Huntsville has faced. A teacher and girls assistant basketball coach resigned last month after texting a former student saying he would buy them liquor.

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