Silo coach charged with injuring children

September 3, 2013

A Silo Junior High baseball coach has been charged with seven counts of injury to a minor child.

Roy Martin West, 42, of Durant, was arrested and charged Tuesday afternoon.

He had his initial appearance in Bryan County District Court. He was released from jail on a personal recognizance bond with a preliminary hearing set for Oct. 17.

West had been under investigation by the Bryan County Sheriff’s Office since when during the spring semester, parents said he had thrown baseballs at players when he was not happy with their performances.

The affidavit of probable cause released Tuesday accuses West of “striking said minor children in the back, legs, arms, or lower torso with a baseball as punishment for inadequate performance while said defendant was a person responsible for the care and welfare of such minor child as a public school coach.”

West, who has been a teacher and coach at Silo for 15 years, was placed on administrative leave by the school district shortly after the April 9 incident. His attorney, Joe White, Jr., of Oklahoma City, said he was recently made aware of the seven charges.

“In no way, shape or form would Roy West ever intend to hurt a child,” White said. “I think in the process of a jury trial, that will be made clear.”

In the affidavit, Bryan County District Attorney Investigator David Cathey outlines an investigation which was “met with resistance” from some parents of the unidentified baseball players.

The investigation began April 10 when Bryan County Sheriff’s Office received reports of several seventh and eighth grade student athletes being struck by baseballs thrown by West as a form of punishment. Investigators began contacting parents and urged them to schedule interviews of their children if they had “marks or bruising” as a result of the incident.

“Multiple children did come forward displaying substantial bruises to their legs and arms, consistent with having been struck by a baseball thrown with significant force,” the affidavit states. Another investigator recorded corrective actions which included punitive running and push-ups.

“Later that corrective action became simply standing, facing away from the coach and as students described, ‘get pegged,’” states the affidavit. “One witness statement described the students involved as being defenseless and without helmets or bats to protect them from injury.”

Another investigator from the sheriff’s office reported he was “met with resistance from some of the parents,” according to the affidavit.

“Investigator (Nathan) Calloway advised that some of the parents stated they did not wish for their child to be involved in this investigation,” the affidavit states. “They stated that their child did not have any injuries, and that they felt that Coach West had done nothing wrong.”

However, the affidavit goes on to state more parents came forward with their children to make voluntary statements, corroborating the statements of those children allegedly injured by the coach’s actions.

In August, investigators conducted follow-up interviews with Silo Schools Supt. Bill Caruthers and Principal Mike Palmer.