By Sean Pendergast
By Sean Pendergast
By Sean Pendergast
By Jeff Balke
By Richard Connelly
By Jeff Balke
By Casey Michel
By Craig Hlavaty
Libby Rose trusted Tommy Granger. She'd always looked up to him. When she was a little girl, her older brothers played football, and Granger was a coach. When she got older, she'd go to the pool at Alice Keith Park where he worked, and she talked to him, thought of him as a mentor.
"I would always look at him, you know, like, dang, he's cool, I want to be cool with him," she says. "And when I got older in middle school I would get attention when I'd go to the park."
She liked the attention, and when she turned 14 and became a freshman at Ozen High School in Beaumont, she got even more of it. Granger, then 38 years old, supervised the Special Assignments Class, a form of in-school suspension. Libby wasn't perfect; she wound up in SAC a lot.
But Granger made it worthwhile. "He'd always give me hall passes, a book of hall passes," she says. "I could write my own passes to go wherever I wanted." When she did stay in SAC, he would have her come up to the front of the class, sit right by him and pass notes, according to a recent lawsuit filed on behalf of Libby (whose name has been changed for this story). Granger had heard a rumor that she'd been having sex, she says, and he asked her who she would tell if they messed around, always tearing up the notes in little pieces after they'd been read. He wrote that he'd heard she "tasted good" and told her she needed to have oral sex "done right," according to the lawsuit. One time he had her come into his office, where, according to the lawsuit, he showed her a homemade certificate, emblazoned with the colors of Ozen High, that said, "Tommy 'Bozo' Granger, Father of 3K."
3K stood for the Koochie Kissing Klick, a group of varsity football players on campus; to be part of the clique, a guy had to go down on a girl while other members watched. This was often achieved, according to the lawsuit, by getting freshmen and sophomore girls drunk and stoned at a house called the Bat Cave, where parties were frequent and where Granger was known to hang out.
Byron Aaron Bell, who had graduated while Libby was in eighth grade, was a member of 3K. Any doubt? Just check his MySpace page, where you'll see him holding up a medallion bearing the name of the clique.
One day Bell came up to the school, walked into SAC and went straight into Granger's office, according to the lawsuit. Granger told Libby to go into the office, where Bell went down on her, according to the lawsuit, but other students and administrators were nearby, so they moved to a field house. Five minutes later Granger came in, she says, and Bell told him that Libby wasn't wearing any underwear and that she had cute breasts.
She showed them her breasts, Libby says, and they proceeded to have a sucking contest, each taking a nipple, racing to see who could make it hard first. Granger then told Libby to "stay here so you and me can do something," according to the lawsuit, but she left to have lunch with Bell. When she returned, she says, Granger was angry with her.
But he still had her trust. He arranged for Libby to hook up with other members of 3K, according to the lawsuit, and he always asked her to describe those encounters in vivid detail.
"He was so good with the kids," recalls Libby's mom. "Never in a million years I would've thought he would've done something like this.
"I looked up to him."
There's something funny going on in Beaumont, and we're not talking about open-mike night at the local comedy club. The Libby Rose incident is but one of many scandals that have plagued Ozen High over the last few years.
Last month several coaches were accused of watching a porno on the Ozen campus; their little viewing party was exposed after the DVD got stuck in the player and they asked a janitor for help.
"I don't think that's a crime, unless they negligently allowed some kids to see that," says Ed Shettle, Jefferson County assistant district attorney, who acknowledges the incident doesn't make the district look very good, especially in light of other recent events at Ozen.
This past August it was discovered that a convicted sex offender, Leonard Ward, had been helping out at football practices. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety's sex offender database, Ward received six years of probation in the '90s for aggravated sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl. BISD Superintendent Carroll Thomas told the board of trustees that someone would be held accountable for allowing Ward access to students; nothing has happened so far, unless you count the recent demotion of head coach John Clayton.
Clayton confirmed to Beaumont media that Ward was a volunteer for the football team from 2001 to 2005. What didn't get reported was Clayton's own arrest in 1979, when a 13-year-old girl accused him of raping her at Odom Junior High. That complaint was eventually dismissed at the girl's request, according to county records obtained by the Houston Press.
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