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Police chose not to recommend charges in hair-cutting incident

No charges were filed after police investigated an incident in which a Jefferson City wrestling coach is alleged to used force to cut a student’s hair against his will.

A lawsuit was filed last week against Alexander Whelan, a former wrestling coach at Thomas Jefferson Middle School, and Jefferson City Public Schools, alleging that Whelan forcefully cut a middle school student’s hair before a match in November 2017.

Several allegations are listed in the petition, including assault, false imprisonment, bullying and harassment and violations of the Missouri Human Rights Act.

“Whelan was dismissed immediately from his coaching duties and received no severance pay,” JCPS spokeswoman Ryan Burns said.

Jefferson City police Lt. David Williams said the department investigated the matter, but did not recommend to the county prosecutor that charges be filed against Whelan for undisclosed reasons.

“The investigation did not produce the necessary criteria (to recommend charges),” Williams said in an email. “Civil allegations can be made that don’t follow criminal codes. There are similarities in both, I cannot speak to the lawsuit.”

“This was a difficult matter as there were juveniles involved along with the adult,” Williams said.

In a statement, JCPS denounced Whelan’s behavior.

“The way this student was treated is wholly incompatible with district expectations for staff conduct. We have not, and will not, tolerate this type of unacceptable behavior from anyone on our staff,” the statement said.

The attorney for the student, Christopher Miller, said in a statement that the district removing Whelan from the staff is not enough.

“The School District has over 1,200 employees and the mere termination of one coach provides no assurance to either my client or this community that the School District’s failures and broken policies in the hiring, training, and supervision of its employees, which resulted in the abuse of my client, has been adequately addressed or fixed.”

No hearings have been schedule in the civil suit.

ABC 17 News has submitted a sunshine request for the police report on the incident.

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