A Gary basketball coach spanked his players with a wooden paddle as punishment for their poor play, the Lake County prosecutor alleges.
Thayer L. Williamson, 31, of 1967 Roosevelt St., Gary, faces a maximum of 24 years in prison if convicted on three counts of D-felony battery. The alleged corporal punishment came to light after several of the boys told their parents.
The school nurse told police she examined every boy on the team and 11 of the 12 players had bruises, welts or slight swelling on their buttocks the day after the paddling.
Upset about his Melton Elementary School team losing badly in a Nov. 16 game, Williamson brought a duct-tape wrapped wooden paddle to practice the next day, according to the probable cause affidavit.
He held the paddle in his hand and as each player stepped to the free throw line, he asked them "Why did I lose?" the affidavit said.
"I'm going to motivate you all," Williamson reportedly told the boys. "Shoot free throws and for every one you miss, you're getting beat."
Williamson reportedly told the students they could leave if they wanted to, but warned them "you won't be on another basketball team in your life," the affidavit said.
The 13-year-olds got from five to 20 swats, the report said. One boy told authorities Williamson had him up against the gym wall as he hit him. During one of the swats, the boy hit his head on the wall, the affidavit said.
When that boy told Williamson he had a headache, Williamson called the player's mother to come get him. When she arrived, Williamson allegedly told her he had to paddle the boys.
"I am not teaching no ladies," the report said Williamson told her. "I am showing them how to be men. I put the paddle to them for losing."
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