PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Police are investigating a local high school coach and several players after they allegedly duct taped an autistic boy to a goal post.
The alleged hazing incident happened Sunday night at Highlands High School soccer fields.
16-year-old Austin Babinsack says he was left duct taped to the goal for approximately 15-minutes, while the students went back to the school to get another student.
“I was really shaken, I thought I was gonna be stuck there for a long time,” Austin told KDKA in an exclusive interview.
An off duty Pennsylvania State Trooper found him, and helped free him.
“He was terrified, he could have died, he could have had a heart attack from being so stressed out, he was screaming at the top of his lungs,” mother Kristy Babinsack says.
Babinsack says Austin is autistic.
“They duct taped my hands, my legs, all the way up to my waist, and then they attempted to try to take a picture of it. I told them now, and they walked off disappointed,” Austin said.
Highlands School District has suspended coach Jim Turner, and two of the players for at least 5 days.
“I’m just disappointed with the Highland soccer team, they should have been run better.”
The district released the following statement about the incident, “Highlands School District does not take matters such as hazing and bullying lightly. The district issues strict disciplinary action on students who think these actions are appropriate and harmless.”
Babinsack’s mother says she is trying to help Austin understand that things will likely be worse before they get better, “watching my kid go through it, and knowing there’s nothing I can do right now to make him feel safe.”
“I feel the coach knew, he wasn’t there, but he knew it was happening, he knows that it’s been going on. He’s the adult, these are kids let’s face it they’re 17. We have to hold the adults accountable first before we can hold the kids accountable,” his mother said.
Babinsack says Austin went to a school soccer game, and players ridiculed him, and called him a snitch.
Harrison Township police confirm they are investigating.
Austin plans to return to school tomorrow.
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