Former McIntosh Academy head football coach Robby Robinson was indicted on one felony and two misdemeanors in connection with an injured player.
A McIntosh County grand jury returned the three true bills Wednesday and Senior Superior Court Judge Robert Russell unsealed them in court Thursday.
The three charges appear to stem from the same incident in which, the felony cruelty to children indictment says, Robinson was criminally negligent in not preventing other people from making violent physical contact with Jimmie Lee Ellison that caused him to suffer “cruel and excessive, physical and mental pain…”
Similar language is used to justify charging Robinson with misdemeanor hazing and reckless conduct. Ellison was subject to unwanted, violent physical contact “in connection with gaining acceptance and/or approval with the McIntosh County Academy varsity football team,” the indictment says.
The charges come after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation turned over its findings in the incident to Atlantic Circuit District Attorney Tom Durden. That investigation was initiated in September after Barry Lollis, the principal at McIntosh County at the time, informed the school board of injuries and reported parents’ complaints to the school board.
Stacy Carson, special agent in charge of the GBI’s Kingsland Office, told the Times-Union then that investigation would determine whether football players suffered injuries as the result of hazing or child neglect.
“Students have been injured due to these incidents,” Carson said.
Courtney Ward told the Times-Union her son suffered a concussion Aug. 26 when he was blind-sided as he stood in a huddle as the team practiced.
Ward said that a student warned her son he would be hit for not showing the proper respect to the team’s senior leadership and that her son had told a coach about the threat. It was nonetheless carried out, and her son was out of school for nearly a month recovering from the effects of a concussion including vision problems and headaches, Ward said.
Ward told the Times-Union that she believes at least two other players had been hurt because players were in charge of handing out harsh, physical discipline.
Robinson still had a job Thursday but not in athletics.
“Last month he was relieved of all duties as an athletic director. Last week I removed him of his coaching duties,” county School Superintendent John Barge said.
McIntosh County Chief Deputy Sheriff George Trexler said that Robinson had not been booked on the charges. “We haven’t seen a warrant or any indictment,” he said.
Soon after the GBI investigation began, the school board reassigned Lollis to the system’s alternative school against the recommendation of Superintendent John Barge.
He was re-instated later, but the school board fired him last week.