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Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee)


A Northwest Whitfield High School coach and an adult woman have been arrested after a party at which a female high school student allegedly was raped, according to a news release from the Whitfield County Sheriff's Office.

Lamar Cofield, 34, an employee of the Whitfield County school system and a community football coach, was arrested on Oct. 6 and charged with failure to report suspected child abuse. Ashley Turner, 33, was arrested the same day and charged with furnishing alcohol to persons under the age of 21, authorities said.

A community football coach is not a professionally certified teacher but someone who has been hired as an assistant coach for an athletic program, according to the Georgia High School Association.

On Sept. 29, the family of the girl reported she had been raped while attending a party on July 1. An investigation was launched by the Whitfield sheriff's office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Investigators determined that five high schoolers attended a party at a home in the Pleasant Grove area on the evening of July 1. One of the boys at the party lived at the residence.

Alcohol was being consumed by the underage kids at the party, and Turner, an adult relative of one of the children, was at the party, according to authorities.

The underage students consumed alcohol in her presence, and Turner consumed alcohol with them. During the course of the party, Cofield, an employee of the Whitfield County school system and a coach at Northwest Whitfield, came by the residence and stayed for over an hour, authorities said.

While there, Cofield observed the students consuming alcohol, according to the release. During that time, one of the female students made him and Turner aware that she had just been sexually assaulted, according to authorities.

Despite it being mandatory for Cofield to report such an incident because of his employment by the school system, he did not report the assault or activity of the students to authorities or to school personnel, the news release states.

Eric Beavers, communications specialist for Whitfield County Schools, said Cofield resigned his position with the school last week. He said he didn't know what Cofield's reason for resigning was because he hadn't seen the resignation letter.

The incident is an active investigation, and more information will be released once it becomes available, authorities said.

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October 10, 2017


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