Trial for former Hallsville ISD coach completes second day - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Trial for former Hallsville ISD coach completes second day

McDaniel with Defense (Source: KLTV) McDaniel with Defense (Source: KLTV)
Prosecution with Wait (Source: KLTV) Prosecution with Wait (Source: KLTV)
Judge and Dr. Allen (Source: KLTV) Judge and Dr. Allen (Source: KLTV)

Warning: Some details in this story may be disturbing.

The trial of ex-Hallsville ISD coach Dean Michael McDaniel, 37, has completed its second day. According to witness testimony, McDaniel is accused of showering with male students and having them stretch while in the nude. 

Another accusation was that McDaniel and another student allegedly shaved each others genital areas. Wednesday, the trial centered around witness and expert questioning to try to define those allegations, and if they actually held any water, based on what the defense was calling conflicting stories.

The defense in this case is led by Dallas Attorney Mark Lassiter. The prosecution is led by Harrison County District Attorney Coke Solomon.

Wednesday, the witnesses included the brother of one of the victims, a psychologist, and a man who used to coach with McDaniel.

During the questioning of the teenaged brother of a victim, the defense brought up the allegation that a juvenile witness had stated to the prosecution that McDaniel had not made any sexual advances.

The defense alleged that the witness told the prosecution during an interview that McDaniel "had no sexual intent" in regards to McDaniel's actions.  The brother, upon further questioning by Lassiter, stated that he did not recall specifically what he had said to the prosecution.

Another witness, a forensic psychologist, Dr. Tom Allen, was brought forward. He was there to explain to the jury the role "grooming" plays when it comes to sexual offenders. 

Lassiter immediately questioned the expertise of the psychologist, asking him to point out specific studies and articles that pertained to grooming. The psychologist had not brought any. Lassiter also stated that the effect of "grooming" is usually not taken into account until after a guilty verdict. During the exchange, Dr. Allen states that he is "not testifying against your (Lassiter's) client."

Lassiter at one point even calls his own psychologist to confirm his arguments. 

During the witness testimony, Allen begins to speak with the jury about "grooming," stating it is a process by which a perpetrator gains access to a victim.

Solomon asks Allen, "Do individuals that have been victims know they are?"

"Not initially," says Allen. Solomon asks, "Do victims ever deny being victims?"

Allen said yes.

At this point, Lassiter begins to question Allen, stating that it is easy to mistake normal behaviors to grooming. Lassiter asked, "[Can] anything can constitute grooming?" A further exchange begins, and Dr. Allen replies to Lassiter saying, "I think you're saying the jury is too stupid to sort out evidence," and that he is not going to tell them (the jury) what to do, or not do."

The entire argument of the defense when in reference to Allen's testimony centers around the possibility that Allen's testimony might add bias to the jury.

Another witness, Thomas Wait, a coach, was brought up. Wait stated that he had worked and coached with McDaniel and stated that McDaniel was a man of integrity. During the questioning by Prosecutor Coke Solomon, Wait was asked if coaches routinely took showers with kids.

"Not usually," said Wait.

Solomon asked, "Have you?"
Wait responded by saying, "Yes, long ago," however Wait referenced that that would have occurred in the 1980's because not enough shower facilities were available.

Related: Ex-Hallsville coach arrested for improper relationship with student

Wait was asked if he would shower with one of his students during current times. Wait responded, "No, because of the way things are today."

Wait was also asked if stretching a student in a shower was inappropriate. Wait stated that it should be done "only in extreme situations" that include life-saving measures.

Solomon also showed diagrams of the school showers and locker rooms to Wait in an attempt by the prosecution to figure out what shower would have been more convenient for Coach McDaniel to use.

The trial is scheduled to resume Thursday at 8:30 a.m. with more witness testimony. Court officials say that they hope to reach a verdict by early next week.

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