On Friday, the Huntsville School District filed a motion asking the court for an order limiting pre-trial publicity in the ongoing Title IX case involving the Huntsville boys basketball program. It is asking the court to direct parties not to comment – even on social medial.

We would like to kindly and respectfully point out to the district’s board members, administrators and attorneys, Charles Harwell and Steve Zega, that the community and parents have a right to know of sexual abuse allegations by members of the boys basketball team that happened for two seasons in the boys locker rooms before and after ballgames. 

The community also has a right to know how the district’s administrators and board responded to the allegations, and the punishment the board didn’t implement, as well as the disciplinary measures it took. 

Documents were brought to The Record by parents concerned about sexual assaults. Yes, parents reached out to The Record on multiple occasions, informing us of the lack of action by the district and the board. The parents wanted the administrators and board members to be held accountable. 

Not only did parents reach out to us but victims did as well. In our reporting, we have continued to not name any victims or their parents, thereby protecting their identities. 

We recognize it’s hard for victims to come forward. It takes courage. It’s not easy to fight back against sexual abuse.

And now that they’ve summoned the strength to come forward, the district wants to shut them down again.

There is comfort in numbers. Once a victim comes forward, maybe others will too. Seeing others speak out can summon the courage for more victims to have the strength to share their story.

Now, the district is asking the court to limit what the community knows about the actions it is taking in the case. 

The public deserves accountability in this case. The citizens deserve to know such things as when the district made its first call to the hotline and any other actions it took in trying to protect students after learning about the allegations.

In asking the court to forbid pre-trial publicity, the district asserts that the victims and those accused have a right to privacy in the case. But, we’d like to point out to administrators, board members and the district’s attorneys that victims came to us to tell their stories because they don’t trust the district. They felt invisible to the district and wanted to be able to speak of their experience in hopes of bringing attention to the matter as a way of healing. Now the district is seeking to limit their voices again. 

Huntsville School Board President Danny Thomas has told The Record that he believes the district will settle the case filed against it in federal court and that it has a million dollar liability policy. Will the district’s attorney try to limit the knowledge the community has about how much the district would be willing to pay to settle the case? Don’t citizens have a right to know how their money is spent? 

The bottom line is that sexual assaults were alleged to have taken place in the boys locker for two basketball seasons. Several victims were alleged to have been sexually abused multiple times. 

We are disappointed that the Huntsville School District thinks the community doesn’t have a right to know about that. We strongly disagree.