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Parents of Blackhawk Wrestlers Sue Hinton School District Over Bullying and Abuse Allegations

The Hinton Community School District is being sued by the parents of two junior varsity Hinton Blackhawk wrestlers alleging the program of being a “breeding ground for harassment and bullying.” The lawsuit was filed in Plymouth County district court on the morning of Tuesday, April 9.

The lawsuit alleges many different instances and scenarios where members of the junior varsity team were the subjects of verbal, physical, and even sexual harassment that was at times encouraged by the coaching staff. One example tells of a game called “slap-back” in which coaches would allow students to slap other students on their back hard enough to leave marks for days on end.

Hinton’s coaching staff during this time comprised of former head coach Casey Crawford and assistant coach Bradley Skuodas. The lawsuit claims that coaches knew all of what was happening to team members and “did nothing to stop the violent bullying, despite being confronted by various wrestling team student parents.” It also accuses the coaches of being a part of the bullying by using insulting and violent language to the athletes.

The worst of these attacks happened in January when the Blackhawk wrestling team traveled to Omaha for a weekend tournament in which an overnight hotel stay was necessary. During the team’s time in the hotel, an explicitly sexual attack took place that was captured via photo and video and sent out to other members of the team via their program’s Snapchat group. The coaches were made aware of the sexual abuse toward members of the team but “did not inform the parents of the students who had been assaulted” and did not report the assaults to the school or law enforcement despite their mandatory reporter responsibility.

The final incident occurred in Coralville at the state duals tournament where a student purchased a brought a taser with him to the tournament. The taser was then used many times on underclassmen members of the program. The lawsuit alleges that the coaching staff and Athletic Director Brian De Jong, who was present for the trip, did not fulfill their duties to supervise the athletes via room and bag checks. The incident happened on a Saturday, and coaches were informed about the incident on Sunday. Despite that knowledge, it was a parent who discovered video of the incident on their child’s phone who then reported the incident to the school counselor on Monday. The counselor then reported the incident to Hinton Superintendent Ken Slater.

The lawsuit concludes by alleging the Hinton wrestling coaches, athletic director, and superintendent of negligence, and the Hinton Community School District of negligent training and supervision of employees.

As of now, Casey Crawford has resigned his position as the head coach of the wrestling program but is still fulfilling his teaching duties. Hinton 7-12 Principal Phil Goetstouwers and 4-6 Principal and Athletic Directory Brian De Jong have also submitted their resignations that will go into effect at the end of this school year.