Should Taylor be allowed to compete at Champs?

by BRIAN PITTER

Monday, March 25, 2019

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Christopher Taylor and Dejour Russell, arguably twoof the nation's brightest prospects in Track & Field, have become embroiled in controversy just days before the start of the annual ISSA Boys and Girls Athletic Championships, after being accused of physically assaulting a teacher at Calabar High School.

Due to the severity of the incident, one which can land Taylor in handcuffs and be summoned to appear in court, according to attorney-at-law David Fitz-Henly, many are questioning whether the athletes should be allowed to participate in this week's Championships.

The accusations of assault are coming from Mr Sanjaye Shaw, who heads Calabar's Physics Department. Taylor has been accused of grabbing Shaw's throat during an incident which occurred on school grounds in December of last year.

At a press conference on Friday evening, Shaw, who was also represented by his attorney, recanted the altercation.

He stated that while on physics camp, a conflict brewed over the availability of beds between him and some members of the track team, including the coach. Shaw said that he had requested to borrow some of the beds the track team had but he was denied, being told that they were donated to the team and not to the school. He was also told that members of the coaching staff would come over to investigate if any of the beds already in Shaw's possession belonged to them. They checked and subsequently left with four beds.

According to Shaw, soon after, a few athletes turned up to the physics camp and started to bang on the windows, causing an altercation. It was then that he decided to record what was going on and the alleged assault then occurred.

“They pushed in, came into the lab and while I was recording, one of the athletes, De'Jour Russell, slapped my hand and the phone fell,” Shaw explained. “While I was reaching for the phone, he stepped over and stepped on the phone.”

Where Taylor is concerned, Shaw states that the athlete 'draped' him and told him that “Is tracks man run the school.”

Following the incident, Shaw expressed that he tried to get in contact with the principal several times but failed. Eventually, after several weeks, both athletes were suspended for five days.

Shaw was not pleased that despite the suspension the students were still allowed to attend school for training, and even participate in a track meet, as he represented the school at the Digicel Grand Prix.

The matter, which was reported to the police earlier this month, has also been brought to the attention of President of the Inter-Secondary Schools Association (ISSA) Dr. Walton Small. ISSA have since released a statement expressing that the students will not be banned from this year's championships.

The school has also responded to the incident. Acting principal of CalabarCalvin B Rowe said that the matter was not treated as assault because there was not sufficient evidence to believe the teacher's account of events.

“There were conflicting accounts on key aspects, for example, the two students involved strongly denied assaulting Mr Shaw and testified instead to the contrary. While one student admitted to shoving the teacher's phone from the face of his teammate he was adamant that he did not step on the instrument,” Rowe said.

“Having taken all things into consideration, and noting the conflicting reports and the lack of evidence of any assault on video footage, we decided not to escalate the matter to the board but to deal with it at the level of the school's senior leadership team.”

Shaw, who states that he can press charges but at the moment is refraining from doing so, is waiting to see whether the school will proceed to properly punish the student athletes.

What do you think? With Champs coming up this week, do you think the students should be withdrawn? Let us know in the comments below or join the discussion on our Twitterand Instagram.


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