More Huntsville students come forward after initial Title IX investigation into ‘baptizing’ ends

KNWA

HUNTSVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — More Huntsville students are coming forward with Title IX complaints, according to a Madison County Record report. This comes after the initial Title IX investigation closed with a one-semester suspension doled out.

Title IX documents showed Huntsville basketball players put their genitals into teammates’ mouths, calling it ‘baptizing.’ One student was initially expelled for a year, but the school board dropped the punishment to a one-semester suspension.

According to the Madison County Record, two new complaints have since been filed. Attempts to reach several school administrators Wednesday were not successful.

Sam Bennett is a youth pastor for First Assembly of God Church in Huntsville. He said he’s counseled victims and a student who admitted to ‘baptizing’ teammates.

“What was done is wrong, really wrong,” Bennett said. “It can cause trauma for the victims and even the perpetrators down the road.”

Bennett said he thinks more people may come forward.

“I think some parents are really upset,” Bennett said. “Some people in the community are really upset.”

Benjamin Rightsell’s son is a middle-school basketball player at Huntsville, and he said he’s concerned for his son’s safety.

“I don’t want him to suffer anything that’s going to have long-term effects for the rest of his life,” Rightsell said.

Parents of victims previously told KNWA/Fox24 if appropriate measures are not taken, they would consider filing criminal charges. Rightsell said if his son was victimized, that’s what he would do. He has not gone to school board members to complain because he said he does not trust them.

“Now that it’s come to light of all the sexual harassment, it just makes me sick, truthfully,” Rightsell said.

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