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Midland Police arrest coaches, administrators at Midland Christian School for failure to report sexual assault

Two coaches and three administrators have been charged after Midland Police say a student was sexually assaulted during a baseball practice.

MIDLAND, Texas — Five people were in jail after Midland Police made arrests at Midland Christian School Wednesday morning.

According to the Midland Police Department, three administrators and two coaches at Midland Christian School were arrested and charged with Failure To Report With Intent To Conceal Neglect Or Abuse.

Midland Police did not release the names of those arrested, but arrest affidavits obtained by NewsWest 9 show Barry Russell, Gregory McClendon, Matthew Counts, Jared Lee and Dana Ellis were all interviewed regarding a sexual assault.

According to the Midland Christian website, Lee is the superintendent, while Ellis is a secondary principal. Counts is an assistant principal and coach. McClendon is listed as athletic director and football coach, while Russell is the baseball coach for MCS.

The assault reportedly took place at Christensen Stadium around January 20, 2022 during a baseball practice.

The victim, whose name is not being released due to his age, was interviewed by Children's Advocacy Center.

During the interview, he told the forensic interviewer that he had been in the locker room to change when the lights were turned off. 

Another student told the victim that it was "freshman initiation day" before someone began to hit the victim. 

The victim said he was then pushed to the ground while still being hit and everyone was screaming at him. He stated he attempted to hit his attacker but was told he was not allowed to hit back.

According to the affidavit, the victim then stated he was sexually assaulted using a bat.

Following this interview, Midland Police went to the school to talk to Superintendent Lee.

Ellis had reportedly notified Lee about the incident back in January, and Lee instructed McClendon and Counts to investigate the incident. 

Lee told the MPD officer on Feb. 14 he would not turn over the requested documentation about the incident and refused to answer any more questions over the phone.

A search warrant was then served on Feb. 14 at the school. Police were able to obtain the documents concerning the investigation, which the officer stated were essentially nothing and had only been created a few days prior.

During the investigation, officers determined that the five people arrested all had knowledge of the sexual assault but did not report it as required by the Texas Family Code.

Emails obtained by MPD reportedly showed clear refusal by those involved to report the abuse to authorities.

At this time Midland Police says one juvenile has been arrested. His name and his charges have not been released at this time.

Jail records indicate that all the faculty members left the Midland County Jail Wednesday on personal recognizance bonds, meaning all they had to do was give their word that they will show up for future court dates.

This type of bond is usually granted to people with clean records and long-time community residents.

NewsWest 9 reached out to Midland Christian School Wednesday about the arrests. They released the following statement from Jason Stockstill, President of the Board of Trustees for MCS:

Earlier today, Midland Police Department arrested five members of Midland Christian School’s administration.  While we value and desire transparency, we must protect the privacy of our students and maintain the best educational environment possible under these difficult circumstances.  Under advice from legal counsel, this will be our only statement on the matter at this time. 

The five administrators were notified of an alleged hazing incident involving some of our student athletes that resulted in school disciplinary action.  Subsequently, school leadership was contacted by MPD regarding the alleged incident.  Our school officials have, and will continue to, cooperate with law enforcement and their investigation.  Currently, we have qualified acting administrators to supervise the campus, oversee student activities, support faculty, and maintain the day-to-day operation of the school.

The physical, spiritual and emotional safety of our students is the most important responsibility we bear as educators and one we take seriously.  We appreciate the support and prayers of our Midland Christian parents, faculty, staff and students as we continue leading, building and equipping for Christ.

Midland Christian will be holding a meeting Wednesday night to discuss the baseball team's future. At this time, the school has canceled practice and backed out of an upcoming tournament.

RELATED: What's next? Community members react to Midland Christian arrests

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