Students rally around coach accused of not reporting alleged rape
WHITFIELD COUNTY, Ga. (WDEF) — Some Northwest Whitfield High School students are rallying behind their former football coach, after he’s accused of not reporting an alleged rape involving a student.
Former basketball and football coach, Lamar Cofield, who players call Coach Red, resigned last week, after being charged with failing to report.
“He was so much more than just a coach. He made kids feel important, even the worst athlete. I was by no means a great basketball player, but he made me feel important to the team,” said Corbin Nicholson, a senior at Northwest Whitfield High School.
Investigators say the incident stems from a party in July, where five high school students were drinking alcohol. They say Cofield and 33-year-old Ashley Turner were also at the party. According to the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office, an underage girl was sexually assaulted and told Cofield. He was charged with failure to report suspected child abuse and Turner was charged with giving alcohol to people underage.
“One thing the football team, we talked about today actually was if this really happened, why was it reported months, months later?” Nicholson asked.
A concerned parent made a call to the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office.
“A few weeks ago we started picking up on it a parent became aware of it and became very concerned very disturbed, naturally. Came to us, reported what they knew and with that we just started back tracking,” Sheriff Scott Chitwood said.
The Whitfield County Sheriff’s office has had other cases where mandated reporters don’t tell officials, but they say it’s not very common.
“Generally speaking, most people in those professional positions understand the responsibility. Everybody cares and loves children, naturally. So anytime there is an alleged incident we ask people, particularly in those positions, to report it,” Sheriff Scott Chitwood said.
As the investigation continues, students say they will keep on supporting their coach.
“The football team has your back Red. We all love you and I hope the truth comes out,” Nicholson said.
No one has been charged in the alleged rape.
For more information about mandated reporting in Georgia, click here.