MVCDS student claims school questioned mental state when expressing outrage over alleged sex tape

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - An investigation involving alleged misconduct at a Toledo school has been going on since November. But the story begins more than a year ago.

In December of 2016, players at Maumee Valley Country Day School were allegedly shown a sex tape in the locker room by one of their volunteer assistant basketball coaches.

Parents say they were outraged, accusing the school of taking no action after the alleged incident.

Nick Zeller, now a junior, is one of the students who allegedly saw the tape.

Zeller says when he walked into the locker room during a holiday break practice, a coach handed him a cell phone showing the tape.

"That person was passing around his phone, just showing a video. I didn't know what it was. He came up to me, he gave me the headphones and was telling me to shush," Zeller said. "I popped in the headphone and looked at the screen and I noticed the pornography. I saw it for about two seconds and I took the headphone out, rushed out of the locker room and just left."

Zeller waited until school was back in session to report the alleged incident. Zeller reported the incident to his adviser who passed the report to an administrator. However, Zeller says nothing happened after that.

Later, parents released an anonymous letter to the school informing them what allegedly happened, saying there was a lack of institutional control.

The letter prompted an independent investigation, which made no references of the alleged sex tape.

"It was not independent, to start," Zeller's mother Dana said. "I don't believe that she was an independent investigator. Being hired by the school and the way the questions were being led, it wasn't very independent of the school. I wasn't surprised at all by her summary, considering the feedback we had received all year long."

Zeller says he sent out a school-wide e-mail and went to social media to describe what he claims happened that day. Zeller says the coach was still allowed to be around students:

Dear Coach Conover and Coach Yustick,
      I am emailing you today to inform you that, effective immediately, I will no longer be apart of the JV Boys' Basketball team.
      I would like to start off first with the multiple contract infringements that have occurred during the season. For example, Rule #4 of the Player responsibilities contract states that "Attendance at all practices, team meetings, team functions, and games is mandatory. While injured players may be unable to play, they are expected to arrive on time, listen to coaches, encourage teammates, and support the team." This rule has been held up for some players and not for all, as one week I had to miss practices due to the Upper School concert and then caroling, of which you (Coach Yustick) also attended, which was used as the reason for me sitting out the entire next game. Other teammates, however, will practice varsity and/or not show up to JV practice at all without giving a reason, but yet will still play in the next game, and not only get substantial playing time but start and even get varsity minutes the same evening. This also violates Rule #5, which states "players are responsible for informing the coach verbally through a phone call or meeting at the earliest possible time prior to the game and/or practice."
     Playing basketball for this team has been incredibly uncomfortable and made me feel unsafe at times. The biggest concern comes with the continuing appearances to practices and games by 'Sdavlloyd Corggens. This is a man who, a year ago, showed me and 4 other teammates "his sextape" after a practice during Christmas break. Even after being reported to several administrators, they allowed for him to attend practices, attend summer league tournaments, and was even there during the beginning of this season. This was also never reported to the authorities even though it is mandatory by law to do so. It wasn't until I went in once again to address the problem that he began to go away. However, in the past couple weeks, he has attended practices and gone to almost all varsity home and away games, and even interacts with the players. How does one justify allowing this type of behavior to potentially continue in the presence of our entire community? Along with this failure to solve the problem, certain coaches on staff have called players "pussies" and "hoes" this season, and have been verbally abusive as well. This has created an unsafe and unproductive environment.
     Next, basketball as a whole is no longer fun for me. At the beginning of this season, I was looking forward to finally playing basketball again. I had been suffering from myocarditis, a viral heart infection, that had sidelined me the entire baseball season. When Coach Conover would come to check up on me, it was never about baseball: it was about a basketball season that was 6 months away. Coach Yustick as well was hoping and praying for me to get better during the summer league season. So to be treated in the manner that I have been this season has been a bit surprising, considering how anxious everybody was to have me come back and play. I don't believe that it's a coincidence that me going into meet with the administration to address the concerns of the upcoming basketball season influenced my role on this team ever since.
     The last point I'd like to address is the retaliation that my family and I have received throughout the entire season. I'll start when we hadn't even played a game yet and I was injured on the sideline, attending the practices with my mother, who was trying to make sure that I was comfortable. At these practices, coaches, especially Coach Coleman, would be staring down my mother and I for what seemed to be no reason. Do I need to explain how it would feel to be a teenager watching another man intimidate my mom, and I can do nothing? My next point comes when Coach Jeff Small, the Middle School and JV 2 coach, decided that it was appropriate to make fun of my brother directly to me at practice. My brother missed practice, informed coach he was going to, and yet that wasn't enough for him. Even after this was addressed with Mr. Conover and Coach Small, no apology has been received. I think it's obvious that my skills, between last year and this year, would have earned me a varsity jersey before anyone else on the JV team. This is clear retaliation for my involvement for meeting with administrators earlier this fall and then my mothers involvement during practices. And last for retaliation, I'd like to address that I watched as the basketball player that I looked up to, the player who's moves I tried to emulate, broke down in the locker room due to months of retaliation from the coaching staff on the team.
     It may be too late for me and a few others, but like we asked back in September and this entire season, please think about your actions and how they effect the team and players so that no one else feels the way that I do. I'd also like to point out that these issues go beyond the game of basketball. The decisions you make and the people who are appointed to be coaches not only effect the players on the court, but they effect the person as a whole. Those decisions then impact other people on a larger scale. Coach Conover, it is also your duty to make sure that these players are ensured their safety and well-being. The scars from verbal abuse are hard to erase. The images that some of us have seen will never go away. Please find it somewhere in your heart to realize that these are more than just players and more than just athletes: these are people.

     Nick Zeller

Zeller then says he was called into a meeting with Maumee Valley administration. According to him, the school responded saying he was acting "school shooter like" and was questioning his mental state.

"When I went into the meeting we ended having, they, for the most part, questioned my mental state. And at one point brought up the fact that parents had called in and said that they had seen so much anger in the e-mail, that they though it was school-shooter like," Zeller said. "And they said, 'We read it again and we agreed with it. We agree with those parents.' That point was brought up a couple different times, but they really hammered home the whole my mental state."

Coaches at Maumee Valley filed a lawsuit against the parents they believe sent the anonymous letter. The coaches allege in the suit the fight started over playing time, which the parents named in the suit deny.

"Basically, they were being slandered, they were being accused of things that are simply untrue," Robert Bahret, the attorney representing the coaches, said. "Every single one of them was accused of criminal misconduct. Originally, the coaches wanted me to wait until the season was over, so as not to be disruptive, but the stuff continues."

Toledo police say they also investigated the incident, but did not bring charges against the accused assistant coach.

The school refused to talk to WTOL, saying only they stand by their investigation.

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