Abuse Complaints Filed with State Against Linn-Mar Assistant Coach

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MARION, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- A group of Linn-Mar High School parents allege Assistant Football Coach Matt Casebolt is emotionally and physically abusing their kids at football practice.

Linn-Mar Assistant Coach Matt Casebolt

Monday, the families filed complaints with the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners against Casebolt and his overseers, Head Coach Bob Forsyth and Athletic Director Scott Mahmens.

Back in December, four of the now five families took their concerns to Linn Mar's High School Principal Jeff Gustason. The district investigated and dismissed the abuse claims.

Unsatisfied, the group decided to appeal to the state board.

"We'd like to see them come in, investigate and take immediate action," said Mark Henrichs, who represents one of the families and is acting as a spokesman for the group as a whole.

Henrichs two sons are no longer playing football for Linn-Mar. He pulled both from the program after he says Assistant Coach Casebolt verbally abused one of them.

"An hour and a half-- two hour episodes of continuous confronting on an issue that, you know, should have been done with in the first 30 to 90 seconds," said Henrichs describing the alleged incident.

The group's complaints against the assistant coach also allege physical mistreatment of students. In one instance, parents claim Casebolt hit a student in the face with a flat weight, chipping his tooth.

Principal Gustason doubts state officials will find anything more than the district did. He said Linn-Mar spent a month and a half looking into the four December claims, interviewing dozens of staff and students, but in the end found nothing.

"When you have a situation, when there's a whole lot of people there and all of the individuals that are around that area, including the adults, and you can't find anybody that says that action took place, you're not going to act upon something," said Gustason.

While Henrichs said at least 15 other families support the complaints against Casebolt, the assistant coach has got his supporters too. Andy Henry, a former football player under Casebolt for four years, said he never saw the assistant coach verbally or physically abuse a player.

"I think these allegations are outrageous,” said Henry in a statement to TV-9. “My personal experience from Coach Casebolt is nothing but positive. He has pushed me the hardest I have ever been pushed and that turned me into a great football player and a better person."

The Board of Examiners said it can't comment on any complaints received.

Officials did say complaints have to meet a certain criteria for an investigator to check things out. During that investigation, if a code violation is found, the board issues a statement of charges and hearing notice. Officials said some cases are resolved through a settlement, some go before a judge.