KINGFISHER, Okla. (KFOR)- It’s been nearly three years since News 4 broke the story of abuse allegations circling Kingfisher Public Schools and their high school’s head football coach, but a settlement has yet to be reached.
A federal lawsuit was filed by a former Kingfisher High School football player, identified as John Doe.
He alleges during his time as a player, he endured several harsh and horrific events including other teammates shooting him with paintball and pellet guns at close range.
John Doe also claims he was tased at least four times, leaving behind welts and bruising.
“This is a lawsuit about hazing. Hazing that rose to the level of torture,” the lawsuit reads. “The Kingfisher High School football team employed a practice of hazing new
members of the team. This hazing was well-known throughout the team, school administration,
and athletic coaches.”
The lawsuit reveals hazing tactics were used to “weed out the weak” and push players to quit the team.
“In allowing these football coaches to build what was perceived in the community as a successful football program, Kingfisher Public Schools abandoned its duties to its male student athletes, who were the members of the football program,” court documents show.
The plaintiff’s attorneys have also detailed far more allegations than just in the original lawsuit.
“In a recurring event known among players and coaches as ‘The Ring,’ the boys and/or coaches would organize fights in the locker room, pitting freshman against one another—or against much bigger upperclassman—for entertainment. Plaintiff has video of one such occasion in which two freshman were made to brawl in front of the rest of the team. One wore MMA boxing gloves, and the other wore towels secured to his hands with athletic tape as they flung blows at each other’s heads. On another occasion, a Ring participant got a black eye when another boy punched him in the face,” stated John Doe’s attorneys.
One of the coaches is said to have hopped in the ring as well and told the boys “what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room.”
“In the locker room, upperclassmen would whip the younger players with wet towels until they bled, or hit them with a stun gun while they were tying their shoes. Older boys would urinate in the younger players’ helmets, put the helmets in the freezer, and then watch as the urine melted down the younger players’ faces during practice,” added John Doe’s attorneys. “Is this how you would want your child to be treated? What would you do if your child came home looking like Plaintiff in the photo above? Would you call the cops? Would you take matters into your own hands? Would you run for a position on the school board to make a change?”
There a list of accusations involving this Kingfisher High Coach going as far back as 2005. More can be found here.
Despite the lawsuit, an ongoing Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation review, and the State Department of Education opening their own investigation into the matter, John Doe’s attorney told KFOR the coach in question has yet to be disciplined.
As of Thursday morning, the coach is still a licensed Oklahoma teacher. He is also the current head football coach heading into the 2023 season, according to the school district’s website.
News 4 reached out to the State Department of Education with a few questions, including: Do you all plan to take any action soon? What has the OSDE done in this case?
“This administration has been closely monitoring this situation from the beginning. We are working with local authorities and, as always, are prepared to take action immediately,” said the OSDE.
News 4 also asked what the department wanted to say to parents who may be concerned about their children’s safety while at school.
“We would strongly urge any parent who is concerned for their child’s safety to reach out to our office directly,” the OSDE replied.
Thirteen months ago, the Kingfisher school district rejected the Plaintiff’s settlement demand of $1.5M.
John Doe’s lawyers have now sent the district and coach’s team of attorneys a new settlement demand of $5M and the firing of the coach.
The offer was sent to the school district’s attorneys Wednesday.
From the moment the letter was received, the offer will be valid for 14 days.
If the offer expires, the demand will increase to $10M. The ask for the coach to be fired will remain.
If the school district allows both offers to expire, John Doe’s attorneys plan to take the case to trial.
“The jury pool in this case will not be limited strictly to citizens of the Kingfisher community. The jurors will not know [the coach] to be some kind of god; they will see him for the predator he is,” stated the demand letter.
As News 4 arrived in Kingfisher Thursday afternoon to take video, a friend of the coach’s pulled up.
He told KFOR there’s “two sides to the story.”
News 4 asked for an interview, but he declined. A phone number was also provided so he could send an anonymous statement later that afternoon, but we never received one.
News 4 has reached out to the school district’s attorneys with a deadline of Thursday afternoon, but we never heard back.
The school district’s attorney, Rosenstein, Fist & Ringold, is also involved in the Wewoka and Ringling case.