Sunday, February 25, 2018

Teens: Former Hallsville coach showered with them

By Robin Y. Richardson
Aug. 10, 2017 at 12:01 a.m.
Updated Aug. 10, 2017 at 6:44 a.m.

Defense attorney Mark Lassiter defends former Hallsville ISD coach Dean McDaniel, far left, during McDaniel's trial for allegedly engaging in sexual contact with student, on Tuesday August 8, 2017, in the 71st District Court at the Harrison County Courthouse in Marshall. (Michael Cavazos/News-Journal Photo)

MARSHALL — Two more ex-students of a former Hallsville ISD track coach testified Wednesday that he showered with them two years ago when they were 13.

Dean McDaniel is charged with three counts of indecency with a child by exposure with the intent of sexual gratification and one count of improper relationship between an educator and a student.

He was placed on administrative leave and later parted with the district in September 2015.

On the first day of McDaniel' s trial Tuesday in Marshall's 71st District Court, a 15-year-old boy testified that McDaniel made him "feel uncomfortable" by showering with him and making him do stretches nude in the student locker room.

On Wednesday, a now 15-year-old boy said McDaniel also stretched him while nude in the shower after a one-on-one training session.

The boy's mother also testified Wednesday, telling the jury that she was shocked to learn that McDaniel had left Hallsville ISD after allegations he took showers with students. She said she talked to her two younger sons, then both 13, and learned they also had showered with the coach.

She said she also asked them if McDaniel had acted inappropriately.

"At first he said, 'No.' Then he said, 'Well, he stretched me,' " the mother recalled one of the boys saying.

"I said, 'On the field?' He said: 'In the shower, and we were naked,' " she said.

She said one of the boys didn't understand why she was so upset — McDaniel was someone he admired and looked up to.

"He was very defensive of coach McDaniel because he saw I was so upset. He didn't want to talk about it. He wanted me to drop it," she said.

PREVIOUS STORY: Student testifies in former Hallsville ISD coach's trial

She said her other 13-year-old son was just as protective of McDaniel. The mother said her sons didn't realize the inappropriateness of the shower because they were just becoming familiar with taking community showers with other athletes. They considered the shower with McDaniel just "another weird thing at junior high."

The mother said that when one of her sons demonstrated the stretches he said the coach performed on him in the shower, she was disgusted.

"He said he had one hand on his knee, with his other (hand) cupped on his bottom," she said, detailing a part of the stretch. "When we demonstrated with clothes on, his genitals would've been in his face."

When asked by McDaniel's attorney, Mark Lassiter, if her sons ever told her that McDaniel backed up in the shower to pass them the soap so they wouldn't see each other, she said: "Yes, but it never crossed their mind that he may be hiding an erection."

When asked by Lassiter if it's "poor judgment" when showering with a group, the mother said what McDaniel did was "criminal."

The two teens testified Wednesday that they still do not believe McDaniel had sexual intent when he showered with them.

One sibling testified Wednesday that McDaniel jumped in the shower with him and his brother after a summer training session with the three of them. He said he asked the coach if he and his sibling could shower, but wasn't expecting McDaniel to join them because coaches have a private shower.

The teen said McDaniel showered on the far opposite side of them and his presence felt "awkward," he recalled.

But "at the time, I didn't think enough of it to even go home and tell my parents," the teen said.

He said even when passing the soap, "(McDaniel) wouldn't face us."

The boy said during his one-on-one training with the coach, the two were engaged in a conversation about building his strength when McDaniel inquired about his pubic hair.

"I was weaker than my (peers) throwing discs. He said it's probably something to do with puberty, and then he asked me had I started growing any (pubic) hair," the teen testified.

When asked by District Attorney Coke Solomon what he thought of McDaniel's question, the teen said nothing at the time because the puberty topic was a popular one among his peers in the locker room.

The teen said during the session he asked McDaniel to stretch him out because his legs were cramped. Demonstrating to the jury, he said they did three assisted stretches by the football field. He said that after the stretches, they walked to the locker room and McDaniel asked him if he wanted to shower.

When asked by McDaniel's attorney why he told interviewers at the Child Advocacy Center that he likes getting in trouble at school, the teen said he was younger and liked being the class clown. When asked if he ever said he likes getting teachers mad at him, the now 15-year-old said he guessed he said it in his videotaped interview two years ago.

When asked by Lassiter if he knew prosecutors were accusing McDaniel of having sexual intentions toward him, the teen said he didn't think so, but his parents do.

"You were the one it supposedly happened to. In your opinion, you don't think he had any sexual intentions at all … but your parents say he did?" Lassiter asked.

"Well, they tell me to stay true to my opinion," the teen said.

When asked by Lassiter why he never mentioned to interviewers at the CAC about the pubic hair conversation, the 15-year-old said he he only remembered it about two weeks ago.

He went on to say he was trying to leave out some things in his CAC interview with authorities because he didn't believe what was being said about McDaniel.

"I didn't want to throw him under the bus," he said.

Suggesting that the teen hadn't been truthful in his testimony and was giving conflicting statements from what he said in his videotaped interview, Lassiter asked, "Would it be fair to say sometimes it's hard to remember stuff from two years ago?"

"Right now, I'm telling the truth," the 15-year-old said.

When asked by Lassiter if he understood that McDaniel believes he only stretched him outside of the shower, the teen did not respond.

When asked by Lassiter if he called McDaniel a month after his interview with authorities, asking him to be his coach again, the teen said yes.

"I still think he's a great coach… I mean, given the circumstance," he said. "I wouldn't take a shower with him, but yes, I'd let him train me."

"Stretch you?" Lassiter asked.

"Outside the shower, yes," he said.

Testimony resumes today.



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