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Teen says former Hallsville coach showered with him, shaved genitals

By Bridget Ortigo
Aug. 11, 2017 at 4 a.m.

Defense attorney Mark Lassiter defends former Hallsville ISD coach Dean McDaniel during McDaniel's trial for allegedly engaging in sexual misconduct with a student, on Tuesday August 8, 2017, in the 71st District Court at the Harrison County Courthouse in Marshall. (Michael Cavazos/News-Journal Photo)

The former Hallsville High School student named in the improper student/teacher relationship case against the school's former track coach Dean McDaniel testified in Harrison County's 71st District Court on Thursday that the coach showered naked with him and shaved his genitals.

The witness, who was 17 at the time of the alleged incident and is now 19, spent the full day giving testimony on Thursday.

Testimony

The teen testified that at McDaniel's prompting, between the dates of October 2014 and August 2015, McDaniel showered naked with him on multiple occasions following early morning workouts at the high school.

The witness said he and McDaniel were working out together before school to improve the witness' athletic skills in track and field.

The witness also testified that McDaniel asked him if the two could shave each others genitals and rub coconut oil on the same area - and the teen said he complied.

The teen also testified Thursday that McDaniel performed assisted stretches with him while both were naked and alone in the showers of the high school's locker rooms and that one of the stretches was a "groin" stretch, which involved McDaniel touching and rubbing the teen's genital area.

The teen testified that McDaniel had access to a separate shower in his own coach's office but instead used the student shower area.

The teen also said that in the summer of 2015, while the two were showering naked together, that the teen suffered a back spasm and asked McDaniel to stretch his back for him.

"He had me get down on my hands and knees on the shower floor and he started rubbing my lower back," the witness said Thursday.

The teen said while McDaniel was leaning over him from behind, rubbing his lower back, he felt McDaniel's private area touching his backside and felt McDaniel starting to get an erection.

"I believe that was my last time to do training because after all of that, I just didn't feel like going anymore," the teen said Thursday. "I still respected him but I just felt a little uncomfortable."

The witness also testified, and his cellphone records corroborated, that throughout the month of August 2015, McDaniel texted the witness several times asking the teen if he wanted to work out. The witness declined, except for once when he asked the coach if a couple of other teens could come along with him, to which McDaniel declined, saying that he just wanted a solo training partner to work out with that day.

The witness said Thursday that when he started hearing rumors in the fall of 2015 about McDaniel's criminal investigation on three counts of indecency with a child by exposure with the intent of self sexual gratification, he initially defended McDaniel because the two had become close and the coach had become something of a spiritual advisor to him.

"He wouldn't ever do anything like that," the witness testified he said to his friends.

Following the publishing of a newspaper article on Dec. 22, 2015 detailing McDaniel's indictment on the three charges, the teen testified Thursday that he had a change of heart and realized he needed to come forward because McDaniel was doing to other boys what was also done to him.

"I didn't want him to do the same thing to my little brother or cousin one day," the witness said Thursday.

The teen testified Thursday that he immediately came clean to his co-workers at a Longview eatery after reading the newspaper article, then he immediately told his parents, grandparents and counselor, one of whom later notified law enforcement.

Cross examination

After his initial testimony on Thursday, Dallas-based defense attorney Mark Lassiter, who represents McDaniel on all four indictments, began to point out inconsistencies in the teen's Thursday testimony compared to the teen's prior video interview with law enforcement.

"You told us here today that the back spasm incident happened during the summer of 2015," Lassiter said Thursday. "In your video interview, you told police it happened Jan. 15, 2015. You even gave them a specific day."

The teen responded that the police must have "mistyped" something in their report.

"It happened in August 2015," he said. "The police might have mistyped it. I don't know if they got it wrong. Maybe they mixed something up. It's been so long ago, I don't remember down to earth dates, I just know they happened."

Lassiter continued to question the teen about contradicting statements.

"You told us today that Dean never showered with the group after you did group workouts," Lassiter said. "You told us Dean only showered with you when it was you and him doing individual workouts."

"That's right," the teen said.

Lassiter then played footage of the teen's video testimony with police.

"Dean always showered with us as a group after the group workouts," the teen can be seen telling Hallsville ISD Police Chief Terrance Turner and officer Mack Fuller. "Every single time he showered with us."

It was at that point in the testimony that the teen stopped answering Lassiter's questions and Lassiter informed him he had the right to not incriminate himself by answering.

The judge asked the jury to leave the room.

"I believe he's about to commit to a crime," Lassiter said. "He's tried several times not to answer and coming from a defense standpoint, I believe he should receive counsel about his right to invoke the Fifth Amendment."

"What crime are you talking about," Harrison County District Attorney Coke Solomon asked Lassiter. "Perjury?"

"That's exactly what I'm saying," Lassiter replied.

The teen declined counsel; the jury returned and testimony resumed.

"Do you recall saying that you didn't tell anybody what happened until after you talked with your counselor," Lassiter asked the witness.

"I don't recall saying that," he replied.

Lassiter again played video footage of the teen talking to Turner and Fuller.

"I didn't want to tell anybody until after I talked to her (the counselor), then I was OK with it," the teen can be heard saying.

"Today you told us that you told your friends at your work, then your mom, then your grandparents, then your counselor," Lassiter said.

"That's an opinion," the teen responded, referring to the video.

Lassiter then reminded the witness that when the allegations came out against McDaniel, he initially came to his defense.

"I said he wouldn't do anything like that," the teen said Thursday.

"When you say 'like that,' you mean he wouldn't have had any sexual intent towards anybody, right," Lassiter asked the teen.

"Yes, sir," the teen replied.

Lassiter then questioned why the teen testified that McDaniel initially tried to shave his legs but the teen told him no.

"So you wouldn't let him shave your legs, because that's not manly, but you were OK with him shaving your testicles and rubbing coconut oil on your (genitals)," Lassiter asked.

"Well I grew up shaving my groin area," the teen said. "It was awkward."

The witness also testified that he texted McDaniel back and forth about practices and training from October 2014 to February 2015.

"Do you know why the police did a dump of your phone and of the 83,000 plus text messages, there aren't any showing up between you and Dean during that time period," Lassiter asked the teen. "The only texts between you and Dean were in the summer of 2015. We could say you're making this all up because they're not there."

"No, sir," he replied. "That does surprise me because I did text him during that time period."

The teen also testified on Thursday that the idea to begin the morning training and practices was both his and McDaniel's idea.

Character

Lassiter then went through several text messages found on the teen's phone where he questioned why the teen was soliciting naked photos from alleged 14-year-old girls at the time.

"You say in one message that you could go to jail if you get caught with the photos from her on your phone," Lassiter told the teen. "So you knew you were breaking the law."

"If that's what is says," the teen replied.

Solomon objected to the line of questioning about the texts on the teen's phone that didn't directly relate to McDaniel but Lassiter argued that the relevance came in offering evidence of the teen's character and behavioral tendencies. Judge Brad Morin overruled Solomon's objection.

Lassiter then went through several texts where the teen had typed racial slurs and profanity to some of his friends.

"I don't remember that," the teen replied. "That was just a joke."

"It was a joke or you don't remember," Lassiter asked.

"It was a joke," the teen said.

Lassiter then brought up several more texts where the teen talked about lying to his mom, teacher and friends.

"Once again, that was all a joke," the teen said.

Text messages

Solomon then defended the teen, by pointing out that the texts were just "trash talking" among teenage boys.

"You wouldn't text me messages like that would you," Solomon said.

"Probably not," the teen replied.

Solomon then read through several texts from McDaniel to the teen during August 2015, some after 10 p.m.

"Hey (witness), want to workout tomorrow," McDaniel typed.

"Can my brother and friend go as well," the teen typed back.

"I really just wanted a single partner," McDaniel typed back. "How about just us tomorrow."

The teen declined.

Testimony in the trial continues at 9 a.m. today.

Related coverage: Mom, boys take stand in trial of former Hallsville coach

Defense claims no crime committed in former Hallsville ISD coach trial

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