Ga. Varsity Football Player Accused of Sexually Assaulting Teammate
A football player from a prestigious Atlanta, Ga., private school has been accused of sexually assaulting his teammate in the school’s gym showers, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
According to Atlanta police, William Jackson Houk, 17, turned himself over to authorities on Sunday and has been charged with aggravated sexual battery. Houck, a varsity football player for the elite Westminster School, is currently in Fulton County Jail and has been denied bond. He will appear in court on Monday.
Westminster School’s president, William Clarkson, sent an email to parents, school trustees and staff on Monday in order to notify them that police are investigating the incident as a sexual assault.
"I write to you in order to express deep concern regarding an incident that took place last week involving a few students on the varsity football team," Clarkson wrote. "I can assure you that we have taken all steps within the school’s strict guidelines and protocols regarding such matters, including the fulfillment of our responsibility to report this particular incident to the Atlanta police. They are now in charge of the investigation, and we are cooperating fully with them."
Clarkson said he had not assembled the pieces together about the alleged assault at this time. "It’s very, very fuzzy to me about just exactly who may have witnessed it," he wrote, "but the police took over the investigation and told us to back off and it was in their hands."
The newspaper reported that, according to Clarkson, the school found out about the incident when coaches overheard students talking during practice and were questioning the alleged victim, who he said "is a really, really good kid. I think he just wants it to be over."
The alleged incident occurred on Oct. 22 and Houk’s aunt, whom Houk had been staying with while his parents were on a trip overseas, was contacted the next day.
The AJC points out that Georgia law defines sexual battery as occurring whenever a foreign object is inserted into the body of another person. Aggravated sexual battery is one of the more serious criminal offenses and is known as one of the state’s "seven deadly sins" for teenagers for which they can be tried as an adult.
If Houk is convicted, he can get up to 25 years to life in prison. There will be no chance for parole unless he is sentenced for life.
Clarkson said this is the first time a sexual assault incident has occurred at Westminster.
"For 60 years, Westminster has maintained appropriately high standards for student conduct," he wrote. "This has been the foundation of our school and is essential for the success of our students. It is important to emphasize to our students, our parents and our community that conduct not meeting those standards will not be tolerated."
Some of the school’s parents talked to Atlanta’s Fox affiliate station about the incident and said they were satisfied with how the school’s administration were handling it.
"The coaches sort of sniffed it out and decided they were going to get to the bottom of it," one parent told Fox 5. "If that’s what happened, then I think they did a good job."
Another parent told the TV station that she does not believe the incident will ruin Westminster’s prestigious reputation. "You’ve got 60 years and prior to that it was a military school and nothing like this has ever happened," the parent said. "It’s such a fluke."
According to the AJC, the school has more than 1,800 students enrolled from kindergarten through 12th Grade. Most students matriculate to the University of Georgia, while many others are entered into Ivy League schools and other elite universities such as Stanford. Tuition ranges between about $20,000 a year for early grades to more than $22,000 a year for students in the Sixth Grade and higher.
Sex among male students is certainly not unknown at private schools. In English private schools, called "public schools" there, there is a tradition of boys passing through such a phase, or not. The subject has been fodder for many works of literature and film, such as Evelyn Waugh’s "Brideshead Revisited" and "Another Country," a fictional account of how such relationships fostered a cadre of English elite that went on to spy for the Soviet Union.
The the Westminster case, however, it appears that whatever happened was nonconsensual and may have involved a hazing ritual, although authorities at the school and police have not confirmed that.