Police in two states have been investigating reports of a football coach from Thunder Mountain High School in Juneau, Alaska, knocking unconscious a then-incoming freshman player while boxing at a team camp last July. The incident, which was captured on video, occurred in Gold Beach, Ore., where the team attends a camp every summer. Law enforcement officials in that city recently took over the case.
According to news media in Alaska, the video was brought to the attention of the Juneau Police Department by one of Thunder Mountain's administrators. Schools are required to report any type of suspected child abuse to authorities (who, in this case, have not revealed how school administration found out about the video). Thunder Mountain's head football coach Bill Byouer told the Juneau Empire that he was not aware of the video until a reporter brought it to his attention last week.
Middle school math teacher John Wahl, an adult supervisor and coach on the football camp trip, has been identified in the video as knocking out Jacob Weir. Both were wearing boxing gloves. People who have seen the video say that no other coaches or adults were present at the time of the incident, and that Weir's teammates cheered as Wahl "raise[d] his arms and parade[d] about the room." A brutal blow-by-blow account of the scene can be read here.
Richard Weir, Jacob's father, told the paper that his son played linebacker on the junior varsity team last season and missed a few games after the incident. "Since the incident, he has not been right," the older Weir said. "He has been complaining of head problems, neck aches and back pains and all kinds of stuff."
Richard Weir added that Jacob is currently staying at a mental health center operated by Juneau Youth Services. "He told us he did not say anything about the incident because he was afraid of the coach," the father said. "He did not want to see him at practices or on school grounds and started skipping classes. He was very depressed."
"We are deeply concerned about these allegations and the details that are emerging regarding this incident. We are concerned further that this incident went unreported for nearly nine months." Juneau School District superintendent Glenn Gelbrich said in a statement posted on the district's website, adding that two unnamed coaches have been placed on administrative leave. "The Juneau School District has higher expectations of our staff and coaches who we entrust with our students."