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Mom, boys take stand in trial of former Hallsville coach

By Robin Y. Richardson
Aug. 10, 2017 at 6 a.m.

Former Hallsville ISD coach Dean McDaniel during his trial for allegedly engaging in sexual misconduct with students, on Tuesday August 8, 2017, in the 71st District Court at the Harrison County Courthouse in Marshall.

Testimony in the case of former Hallsville ISD cross country coach Dean McDaniel — charged with three counts of indecency with a child by exposure with the intent of sexual gratification and one count of improper relationship between an educator and a student — continued on Wednesday with two more witnesses claiming McDaniel also showered with them in the summer of 2015.

One of them said McDaniel stretched him while nude in the shower, following a training session with just him. The mother of the two, who are siblings, also took the stand, sharing how livid she was when she learned of the alleged incident involving her then-13-year-old boys.

“I had just gotten back from a women’s group and my older son was here,” the mother said.

After mentioning the fact that she had seen McDaniel’s wife at the function, her oldest went on to tell her that McDaniel wasn’t coaching at Hallsville anymore because he had been accused of showering with athletes.

“I was surprised,” the mother said.

Mother’s testimony

She said she initially thought McDaniel was let go from the district because someone had complained of his strong display of Christianity at the camps he hosted.

“He uses a lot of Christianity and Bible verses with all the camps he’s done,” she said. “I thought someone complained and he stood his ground and they asked him to leave.”

She was shocked to learn of the shower accusations. At the urging of her eldest son, she talked to her youngest sons about the revelation, and learned that they, too, had showered with the coach before.

She talked to each of them one-by one, asking the first one during a ride in the car if McDaniel had acted inappropriately.

“At first he said, ‘No.’ Then he said, ‘Well, he stretched me,’” the mother recalled.

“I said, ‘On the field?’ He said: ‘In the shower, and we were naked,’” she said.

“I was terrified at what else could’ve happened that my son wasn’t saying,” she said. “They’re 13. A coach tells you to do something, you do it. You don’t question it.”

She said her son didn’t understand why she was so upset. McDaniel was someone he admired and looked up to.

“He was very defensive of coach McDaniel because he saw I was so upset. He didn’t want to talk about it. He wanted me to drop it,” she said. “He just was adamant that coach McDaniel was a good guy; he’s married; he has kids; he’s a Christian. I just kept explaining that that doesn’t make him not a pedophile.”

She said her other son was just as protective of McDaniel during her one-on-one talk with him about the alleged incident. The mother said her sons didn’t realize the inappropriateness of the shower because they were just becoming familiar with taking community showers with the other athletes, as junior high students. They considered the shower with McDaniel as just “another weird thing at junior high.”

The mother said the thought of the coach showering with her kids, and going to the extent of stretching nude with one of them in the shower made her livid.

“When (her oldest son) told my husband and I about what he had heard, I assumed at that point, it was with a group… that coach McDaniel was in a hurry (and jumped in the shower),” she said. “When I found out it was alone on a summer workout when they’re not going back to school, and there’s no reason to shower … I went through the roof,” she said.

The mother said when her son demonstrated the stretches that the coach allegedly performed on him in the shower, she was disgusted.

“He said he had one hand on his knee, with his other (hand) cupped on his bottom,” she said, detailing a part of the stretch. “When we demonstrated with clothes on, his genitals would’ve been in his face.”

Unbeknownst to her, the mother said her sons reached out to McDaniel from her cellphone, wanting to talk to him about the accusations. She said McDaniel asked to meet with them and her to discuss the matter.

“I said absolutely not. I don’t ever want you to even have contact with coach McDaniel again,” she told her sons. “They were upset.

“They were inspired and drawn to him for his passion of the Lord, for his passion of what he coaches,” she said. “They thought he was great.”

When asked by McDaniel’s attorney, Mark Lassiter if her sons ever told her that McDaniel backed up in the shower to pass them the soap, so they wouldn’t see each other, she said: “Yes, but it never crossed their mind that he may be hiding an erection.”

When asked by Lassiter if it’s “poor judgment” when showering with a group, the mother said what McDaniel did was “criminal.”

The mother said she and her sons may have had different opinions about McDaniel’s actions, but she’s always told them that they are entitled to their opinion. The teens testified Wednesday that they still do not think that McDaniel had sexual intent when he showered with them.

Minor’s testimony

The sibling, who claimed to have been stretched by McDaniel in the shower, took the stand first Wednesday, recalling how McDaniel had jumped in the shower with the siblings following a summer training session with just the three of them. He said he asked the coach if he and his sibling could shower, but wasn’t expecting McDaniel to join them.

“I was thinking he’d go and get towels and we would take a shower in our own shower and he take a shower in his,” he said, expounding that coaches had their own private shower.

He said McDaniel showered on the far opposite side of them. His presence felt “awkward,” he recalled.

But “at the time, I didn’t think enough of it to even go home and tell my parents,” the teen said.

He said even when passing the soap, “he (McDaniel) wouldn’t face us.”

The boy said during his training with the coach alone, the two were engaged in a conversation about building his strength when the coach inquired about his pubic hair.

“I was weaker than my (peers) throwing discs. He said it’s probably something to do with puberty and then he asked me had I started growing any (pubic) hair,” the teen recounted.

When asked by District Attorney Coke Solomon what he thought of McDaniel’s question, the teen said nothing, at the time, because the puberty topic was a popular one among his peers in the locker room.

The teen said during the session he asked McDaniel to stretch him out because his legs were cramped. Demonstrating to the jury, he said they did three assisted stretches by the football field. He said following the stretches, they walked to the locker room and McDaniel asked him if he wanted to shower.

The teen said McDaniel entered the shower, too, and the two talked about stretching as well as pubic hair. Thinking nothing about it, the teen said he turned around to show the coach.

That’s when he said McDaniel suggested stretching again — three more times — before he took him home. He said it felt “weird” and uncomfortable stretching nude in the shower, but carried on because he trusted him.

“I thought it was weird enough to tell,” the teen told Solomon, advising he told his brother.

When asked by McDaniel’s attorney why he told interviewers at the Child Advocacy Center that he likes getting in trouble at school, the teen said he was young back then, and liked being the class clown. When asked if he ever said he likes getting teachers mad at him, the now 15-year-old said he guessed he said it in his videotaped interview, at age 13.

Defense cross examination

When asked by Lassiter if he knew that prosecutors were accusing McDaniel of having sexual intentions towards him, the teen said he didn’t think so, but his parents do.

“You were the one it supposedly happened to. In your opinion, you don’t think he had any sexual intentions at all… but your parents say he did?” Lassiter asked.

“Well, they tell me to stay true to my opinion,” the teen said.

When asked by Lassiter why he never mentioned to interviewers at the CAC about the alleged pubic hair conversation, the 15-year-old said remembered it about two weeks ago; thus, he told his parents.

He went on to say he was trying to leave out some things in his CAC interview with authorities because he didn’t believe what was unfolding.

“I didn’t want to throw him under the bus,” he said.

Suggesting that the teen hadn’t been truthful in his testimony, and was giving conflicting statements from what he said in his videotaped interview, Lassiter asked “would it be fair to say sometimes it’s hard to remember stuff from two years ago?”

“Right now, I’m telling the truth,” the 15-year-old said.

When asked by Lassiter if he understood that McDaniel believes that he only stretched him outside of the shower, the teen was non-responsive.

When asked by Lassiter if he called McDaniel a month after his interview with authorities, asking him to be his coach again, the teen said yes.

“I still think he’s a great coach… I mean, given the circumstance,” he said. “I wouldn’t take a shower with him, but yes, I’d let him train me.”

“Stretch you?” Lassiter asked.

“Outside the shower, yes,” he said.

When asked why he told his mother that he joined McDaniel in the shower, but then told the jury that McDaniel joined him in the shower, the teen said he was probably trying to protect his coach, at age 13.

“The people that are trying to do something to coach McDaniel when I was 13, I didn’t want them to do something to him because he was my coach,” he said. “I wanted to make sure they didn’t think it was more than what it was.”

“The truth was it wasn’t anything?” Lassiter asked.

“Yes,” the teen said, gazing out in the gallery. “Well, I don’t know.

“If I told her he was the one in the shower and I asked him (to join), then I was just trying to protect him,” he said.

“It’s not hypothesis,” Lassiter said.

“All I know is I’m telling the truth right now,” the 15-year-old said.

Testimony in the trial, which kicked off Monday, resumes today.

Related coverage: Defense claims no crime committed in former Hallsville ISD coach trial

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