Former Russell County Coach Tony Rasmus found not guilty of Third Degree Assault, guilty of harassment, in appeal trial

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UPDATE 3:25 p.m. 10/18/21: The verdict is in. Tony Rasmus has been found not guilty of Third Degree Assault and found guilty of harassment.

Rasmus will be sentenced in 30 days. Judge Bellamy has limited each side to five witnesses in the sentencing hearing.

RUSSELL COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL) – Former Russell County Baseball Coach, Tony Rasmus, is appealing his conviction of Third Degree Assault towards a 16-year-old student-athlete.

Between both sides, there are over 40 witnesses on the witness list. On Thursday in court, lengthy testimonies and cross-examinations occurred on the second day of trial. Nine witnesses were brought to the stand to testify, including the victim and his father.

The former Russell County baseball player will not be named in the case, as he is a minor.

Tony Rasmus’ attorneys, Jim McKoon and Charles Floyd questioned the father of the victim as to why the incident was not reported to school officials or authorities until two weeks after it occurred. The father of the victim admitted on the stand that in those two weeks, “I put baseball ahead of my child’s safety & health.” 

The victim had reported two contradicting statements following the incident. The first was taken by the Child Advocacy Center (CAC) in Phenix City, Alabama, saying Coach Tony grabbed him very tightly under his chin. Two days later a second statement was given by the victim, this time at the Russell County Sheriffs Department. This statement was very similar to the first, but the victim referred to a different area. He said that Coach Tony, grabbed him by the throat.

The investigator, Christy Pritchard, testified in court. Pritchard said she asked the victim why this was different than the previous statement.

The victim said he was, “scared what the Rasmus’ would do or think if he told the truth.”

Witnesses said the Russell County High School Baseball programs culture under former coach, Tony Rasmus consisted of explicit language to players. The victim said he was told on many occasions that, “what is said and done at the field stays there,” and that players were told to not tell their parents what went on at the field.

The defense reminded jurors that Rasmus is not being charged with abusive language.

The incident happened in February of 2021, after a 16-year-old student-athlete made a fielding error, during a home game at Russell county. The fielding error led to a heated conversation between the player and Cyle Rasmus, Tony Rasmus’s son.

Former head coach, Tony Rasmus is one of the most decorated high school baseball coaches in the state of Alabama. Rasmus was found guilty in June 2021, he was not sentenced to jail time but was fined 500 dollars and required to take an anger management course.

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