Napa Valley (Calif.) Unified School District officials have been contacted by police regarding a viral TikTok video in which a man claims he was brutally assaulted in a locker room by more than a dozen boys 30 years ago.
As reported by The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa, the allegations, made in a video posted May 18, are aimed at an unidentified group of assailants, as well as at the school’s longtime boys’ basketball coach, Denny Lewis, who has since retired. The alleged victim asserts that Lewis, a physical education teacher at the time, saw the assault unfold and did nothing to intervene.
The video, which had about 720,000 views and more than 9,000 comments by Friday afternoon, prompted the scheduling of a closed-door meeting of the district's school board this week.
“One of the school resource officers got the information, documented the report and watched the video,” Napa Police Sgt. Mike Walund said, confirming receipt of the district’s notice. “But no individual has made any reports to us. We may attempt to track him down.”
The video first appeared in response to the TikTok prompt: “Tell me about an experience you had with a teacher when you were younger that permanently scarred you.”
Identifying himself in the comment section only as Travis, the man described being attacked at Napa High by a large group of boys who he claims ostracized him under the suspicion he was gay.
Lewis responded to their derision by insisting Travis couldn’t change into and out of his gym clothes until the rest of the class had done so separately, the man said, per The Press Democrat
“Well, that just gave them a reason to be alone with me, and the coach knew that,” the man says in the video.
One day, “about 15 boys dragged me into the back bathroom, with the coach watching, spread my legs apart, and kicked me in the genitals until I passed out.” Neither the coach nor any of the perpetrators were ever punished, he said.
In multiple responses to comments below his TikTok video, Travis alleged the attack occurred during the 1990-91 school year, when he was a closeted gay sophomore at Napa High School. The video was the first time he has publicly addressed the incident, one of the events he said led him to therapy for PTSD.
Reached by phone Friday, Lewis said he was aware of the allegations but immediately rejected the claims. “Most ludicrous thing I’ve ever heard,” he said. “I feel very genuinely for the gentleman. I have no idea why he has used me as part of this story.”
Lewis, 79, coached boys' basketball at Napa High School for nearly 30 years and is a member of its athletic half of fame.
According to The Post Democrat, the video has rocked a school community that was clouded four years ago by a hazing scandal at Napa High, leading to the resignation of the successful varsity football coach and contributing to the departure soon after of then-principal Annie Petrie.
“NVUSD is shocked, horrified, and saddened to hear of this past abuse that, if it had happened today, would be considered a hate crime,” the district said in a statement that was signed by superintendent Rosanna Mucetti and student services director Mike Mansuy. “The trauma the victim discussed is incomprehensible and unacceptable.”