Testimony adds to accusations against ex-Hallsville coach
By Bridget Ortigo
Aug. 11, 2017 at 12:06 a.m.
Updated Aug. 11, 2017 at 7:06 a.m.
MARSHALL — A 19-year-old former Hallsville High School student testified Thursday that his former track coach showered with him and shaved his genitals — the third straight day of testimony in which Dean McDaniel is accused of taking showers with his former students.
The witness, who was 17 at the time of the incidents, testified Thursday in the trial of McDaniel, who 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.
The teen testified in Marshall's 71st District Court that at McDaniel's prompting, between October 2014 and August 2015, McDaniel showered with him on multiple occasions after morning workouts at the high school.
The witness also said McDaniel asked to shave the teen's genital area then rub it with coconut oil before he then asked the teen to perform the same thing on himself.
The teen also testified that McDaniel performed assisted stretches with him while both were nude and alone in the shower, and one was a "groin stretch," which involved McDaniel touching and rubbing the teen's genital area.
The witness also said that in summer 2015, while the two were showering together, the teen had a back spasm and asked McDaniel to stretch his back for him.
"He had me get down on my hands and knees on the shower floor and he started rubbing my lower back," the witness said Thursday.
The teen said while McDaniel was leaning over rubbing his lower back, he felt McDaniel's genitals touching his backside and felt McDaniel start to get an erection.
"I believe that was my last time to do training, because after all of that, I just didn't feel like going anymore," he said Thursday. "I still respected him, but I just felt a little uncomfortable."
The witness also testified, and his cellphone records corroborated, that throughout August 2015, McDaniel texted the witness several times asking him if he wanted to work out.
The witness declined, except for once when he asked McDaniel if a couple of other students could come along with him, to which McDaniel said he just wanted a solo training partner.
The witness said Thursday that when he started hearing rumors in fall 2015 about the criminal investigation involving McDaniel, he initially defended him because the two had become close, and the coach had become a spiritual adviser to him.
" 'He wouldn't ever do anything like that,' " the witness testified he said at the time to his friends.
After a newspaper article was published Dec. 22, 2015, that detailed McDaniel's indictment, the teen testified Thursday that he had a change of heart and realized he needed to come forward and tell others because McDaniel was doing to other boys what was done to him.
Defense attorney Mark Lassiter pointed out what he called inconsistencies in the teen's testimony compared with his earlier video interview with law enforcement.
"You told us here today that the back spasm incident happened during the summer of 2015," Lassiter said. "In your video interview, you told police it happened Jan. 15, 2015. You even gave them a specific day."
The teen responded that the police must have "mistyped" something in their report.
"You told us today that Dean never showered with the group after you did group workouts," Lassiter said. "You told us Dean only showered with you when it was you and him doing individual workouts."
"That's right," the teen said.
Lassiter then played footage of the teen's video testimony with police.
"Dean always showered with us as a group after the group workouts," the teen was heard telling Hallsville ISD Police Chief Terrance Turner and officer Mack Fuller. "Every single time he showered with us."
At that point, the witness stopped answering Lassiter's questions, and Lassiter told him he had the right not to incriminate himself by answering.
The judge then asked the jury to leave the room.
"I believe he's about to commit to a crime," Lassiter said. "He's tried several times not to answer, and coming from a defense standpoint, I believe he should receive counsel about his right to invoke the Fifth Amendment."
"What crime are you talking about?" Harrison County District Attorney Coke Solomon asked Lassiter. "Perjury?"
"That's exactly what I'm saying," Lassiter replied.
The teen declined counsel, the jury returned and testimony resumed.
"Do you recall saying that you didn't tell anybody what happened until after you talked with your counselor?" Lassiter asked the witness.
"I don't recall saying that," he replied.
Lassiter again played video footage of the teen talking to Turner and Fuller.
"I didn't want to tell anybody until after I talked to (the counselor), then I was OK with it," the teen said on the video interview.
"Today, you told us that you told your friends at your work, then your mom, then your grandparents, then your counselor," Lassiter said.
"That's an opinion," the teen responded.
Lassiter then reminded the witness that when the allegations started against McDaniel, he came to his defense.
"I said he wouldn't do anything like that," the teen said. "I said the same thing to (my co-worker) when the rumors started. I didn't know the exact allegations, but I knew people were making rumors."
"When you say 'like that,' you mean he wouldn't have had any sexual intent towards anybody, right?" Lassiter asked.
"Yes sir," the witness replied.
Testimony continues at 9 a.m. today.