A young Georgia football coach is accused of child abuse after allegedly hitting one of his players on the sidelines of a game in Florida, in a filmed incident.
The incident occurred during an American Youth Football (AYF) National Championship game in Kissimmee, Fla. On Dec. 7, according to an incident report from the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office. The report says the visiting Savannah Gators coach twice hit one of his players in the helmet, knocking him to the ground in an angry tirade. The team is made up of players under the age of nine.
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The Savannah Gators have since severed ties with the coach, who has been identified as Gerrel Williams, a Savannah resident. He was also fired from his post as a detention center counselor, according to the Savannah Morning News.
“The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, as well as our local attorney’s office, have reviewed this case and it has been decided that child abuse charges will be filed, regardless of the parents’ decision not to file a complaint, ”the sheriff’s office said in a statement to Click Orlando on Friday.
Video of the incident circulated widely on social media on Wednesday, triggering an intense backlash against the team and strong calls for the coach to be punished. The clip was recorded on a screen and shared on Twitter, where it has been viewed more than four million times to date.
WARNING: The following video contains violence and graphic language. Discretion is advised.
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The video shows the coach angrily yelling at his players as they approach him on the sidelines during a break in play. The first boy to approach him wears the No. 2 on his jersey.
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The trainer can be seen abruptly hitting No 2 on the side of the helmet with a right hook, apparently without warning. The boy staggers and the coach begins to storm, yelling at the rest of his players. He turns his back and starts to walk away, then turns and looks for No.2 among the crowd. He handcuffs the boy again with a quick right hook, throwing him to the ground and then standing on top of him.
The boy stands up quickly and turns his back to the coach.
The coach yells some more, then grabs No.2’s head and shakes him by the helmet before letting him go.
The Osceola Sheriff’s Office said it informed the boy’s mother of the incident, but she declined to press charges.
“None of these coaches would hurt (the) kids,” she told the Savannah Morning News.
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Williams reportedly acknowledged the video in an apology on Facebook Live earlier this week, which was posted on the Savannah Gators team page. The post and page have since been deleted.
“I’m going to apologize for my actions on what happened, but in the end, I’m not going to make any excuses for it,” Williams reportedly said in the video, according to the Savannah Morning News. ” I did it. ”
The AYF says it has banned Williams indefinitely from all future events and activities.
“We are of course beyond the disappointment of the actions of the coach, which are totally incompatible with the fundamental value of sport for young people, which is basically an opportunity for adult leaders to be role models for young people. young people in our country, ”AYF told local station WTOC. in a report.
The Gators League has also confirmed that Williams has been kicked out of his coaching job.
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The Chatham County Sheriff’s Office fired Williams on Thursday after viewing the video. The sheriff’s office said he was “disturbed” by the incident and did not tolerate the behavior of the video.
“As of December 10, 2020, he is no longer an employee of the CCSO,” the sheriff’s office said.
The Savannah Police Department acknowledged the incident in a statement Thursday, adding that it occurred in a different jurisdiction and was already under investigation.
No arrests had been made on Friday afternoon.
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