NL basketball incident

Shawn Asher, a player from North Laurel’s boys basketball team, prays Monday night with his father, friends and teammates while waiting for the Laurel County School Board to decide the fate of the teens accused of stripping a teammate and taking photographs of him naked.

Two North Laurel High School boys basketball players involved in an incident during a recent overnight road trip were dismissed from the team by the Laurel County School Board following a marathon 12-hour meeting Monday night and early Tuesday morning.

Shawn Asher and Anthony Trabish — in an unusual disciplinary hearing where the players’ families agreed to waive their sons’ right to privacy in order to have their story told in open forum — were permitted to return to school to complete their senior year following a one-week suspension that ended Tuesday morning, but saw their high school playing careers end.

“This has been a long night for everyone,” board member Eddie Jones told the crowd of about 50 people, made up primarily of North Laurel players and their parents, after the board returned from deliberating in executive session.

“There have been a lot of lessons learned” for the board, students and parents, Jones continued. “Some hard lessons.”

The students’ education is the most important thing, however, Jones said regarding the board’s unanimous decision to allow the students back in school.

Two other members of the basketball team — junior Luke Dalton and freshman Broadie Creech — were permitted to return to school and rejoin the team after missing a week of school and two games. Former Jaguar assistant coaches Terry Smith, Shane Tarvin and Howard Muncy all resigned over the incident.

The incident occurred while North Laurel was on an overnight road trip for games against northern Kentucky schools Lloyd Memorial, on Jan. 12, and Dixie Heights, on Jan. 13.

North Laurel principal Jimmy Durham testified during the hearing that the father of one of the team members spoke to Durham early in the morning of Jan. 14. He told Durham his son had been stripped of his clothing and carried out to the balcony of a third-floor room at the Comfort Inn in Erlanger. His clothes were taken to another room down the hall, and the boy had to walk down the hall naked to retrieve them.

Dalton and Creech allegedly photographed the naked boy with their camera phones.

On Jan. 14, team members were instructed to bring their cell phones to the school so school officials could determine if any pictures of the boy remained on any of the players’ phones. Testimony during the hearing revealed some assistant coaches saw the photos on the bus ride back to London and other coaches saw the photos earlier in the day while the team was eating lunch at a fast-food restaurant. On the bus ride home, coaches instructed players to delete all of the photos. Head coach Jim Conway, who is a northern Kentucky native, did not ride the bus back with the team, and was not informed of the incident until Jan. 14.

“I do believe the pictures have been deleted,” Durham said, addressing questions raised by school board attorney Larry Bryson during the hearing concerning the safety of the victim. “I do believe they haven’t been posted on the Internet.”

Durham said the incident occurred, he learned after interviewing several members of the team Jan. 15 and 16, because the alleged victim had crank-called Asher and Trabish’s room numerous times, and had “ransacked” the two seniors’ room the morning of Jan. 13 as well.

“Several students in this case have indicated the victim was an instigator,” Durham said.

During their testimony in the open hearing, Asher and Trabish admitted their involvement, but each stressed their intent was not to harm the victim in any way. Both said it was a prank that escalated, and apologized.

Asher and Trabish each said their room received about 10 crank calls Jan. 12 after the game with Lloyd, then about 10 more Jan. 13 after a morning team meeting, but before the team checked out of the hotel.

“We asked who was doing it; everyone said it was the alleged victim,” Asher said. When they confronted the victim and asked him to stop the crank calls, “he was laughing about it.”

According to testimony, later that morning, after being told by another player their room was being ransacked by the victim. Asher and Trabish later stripped the victim in another room and carried him out onto the balcony. During the incident, the victim allegedly cooperated, raising his arms above his head so his shirt could be removed more easily by Asher. After his shorts were removed, Asher and Trabish said, the victim pulled his own underwear down to his knees, and Trabish pulled them the rest of the way off. At first he sat cross-legged on the balcony, then stood up and reportedly pressed his buttocks up against the glass door to moon the other players in the room.

“Not one time did he say ‘stop!’” Asher said. “He was laughing about it the whole time.”

Durham said when he and other North Laurel officials interviewed the victim, he indicated to them he felt threatened by the incident, and broke down in tears while being questioned. However, Durham said interviews of other players contradicted this, and that the victim reportedly “went along with it.”

As many as 10 members of the team witnessed the incident, Durham said.

Raymond Shears, a freshman on the team, corroborated Asher and Trabish’s testimony during the hearing. The incident took place in Shears’ room, but he was not involved. His parents agreed to allow him to testify in the hearing.

“The way (the victim) was acting, he didn’t seem like he was bothered,” Shears said. Asher and Trabish “didn’t do it to hurt (the victim) or make him look bad in front of the team.

“I think it was just a prank that went too far,” Shears said.

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