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Update: Lebanon asst. football coach fired after alleged assault on player

By Xavier Smith xsmith@lebanondemocrat.com • Dec 17, 2015 at 7:02 PM

A Lebanon High School assistant football coach is charged with assault, accused of head-butting and threatening a student, said police.

Lebanon police responded to Lebanon High Wednesday after receiving a report of a possible assault.

According to police, head football coach Sam Harp told police that during Tuesday’s football practice two Lebanon football players got into a verbal altercation.

“At that time, one of the assistant football coaches, Howard Tobias Bates, stepped between the two players and asked the victim if he wanted to fight,” said police Chief Scott Bowen in a statement.

Harp told police Coach Bates then head-butted the victim and made explicit threats toward the 16-year-old football player.

“Some grown men would take what was said to this kid as a threat. It was pretty explicit.” Bowen said.

Police said two other assistant coaches and a teammate witnessed the incident.

Wednesday, the assistant coaches reported the incident to Lebanon High School officials, who then contacted Lebanon police.

Police spoke with the 16-year-old victim’s mother who said that she wished charges to be filed against Bates.

Bowen said assistant coaches and school officials handled the situation promptly and correctly.

“I believe the coaches knew what happened was out of bounds of normal,” Bowen said. “It’s an unfortunate incident, but it makes you feel better knowing that people are there looking out for the children.”

“I can’t commend enough the matter in which this was handled,” said Donna Wright, Wilson County director of schools. “Everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but if there’s a suspicion of wrong doing, we act on it immediately.”

“We have a close working relationship with the high school, and we don’t want this to paint a bad image of the wonderful educators and coaches over at the school,” said Bowen, who said incidents like this are rare in Wilson County.

“Sports are vitally important to some of these kids who need structure and to stay out of trouble and we want to protect that,” said Bowen.

Wright said Bates has been released of all football responsibilities pending the results of the investigation and will no longer coach at Lebanon High. He was not employed as a teacher at Lebanon High and was strictly a paid assistant coach.

Police obtained a warrant for assault, and Bates turned himself in at the Wilson County Sheriff’s Department a short time later.

Bates, 42, of Mt. Juliet, posted a $5,000 bond and due to appear in General Sessions Court on Oct. 2.

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