Prosecutor Weighs Charges in Gentry Abuse Case
The Gentry Police Department has concluded its investigation into allegations of abuse by Gentry Public Schools Coach Blake Rhein. It has been forwarded to the prosecuting attorney.
The 23-year-old health teacher and high school boys’ soccer coach is accused of abusing several male and female students during the physical education portion of his class, according to a police report. The allegations were brought to police by a concerned parent.
At least 17 alleged victims, between the ages of 11 and 16, were identified, according to police.
Benton County Prosecutor Van Stone will decide if there is sufficient evidence to warrant criminal charges against Rhein, according to Gentry Police Chief Keith Smith.
The prosecutor will also review the evidence to determine if the school failed to report the abuse under Arkansas’ Mandated Reporting Law.
In a letter Superintendent Randy Barrett states, “The district maintains that no employee of the district has either willfully or knowingly failed to perform the duties of a mandated reporter.”
Barrett said the school’s list of “mandated reporters” have received up-to-date training on state codes and school district expectations.
Smith said it may be another three to four weeks before the prosecutor is able to make a decision on potential charges due to the large volume of information gathered as evidence.
Rhein was suspended back in May. Superintendent Barrett will recommend Rhein’s contract to be terminated. The school board will vote on his future employment at its June meeting.
“I don’t believe that the employee in question has a desire to appeal this recommendation that I’m going to make,” Barrett said.
“I don’t want anyone to get the idea that we have in some manner pronounced some judgement about his innocence or guilt in the legal manner,” he said.
Rhein has only been with the school for a year.