Four high school wrestlers from Norman North are facing rape charges following what was initially described as a “disturbing incident” on a junior varsity wresting team bus in January.
Three of the four wrestlers, who police have identified as 18-year-old Tanner Shane Shipman, 17-year-old Sage Griffen Gandenberger, and 16-year-old Chase Denton Smith, were charged with three counts of rape by instrumentation against two male victims, ages 16 and 12.
A fourth wrestler, identified as 17-year-old Hunter Oren Matthews, was charged with one count of rape by instrumentation of the 12-year-old.
The alleged incident occurred on Jan. 9, as the junior varsity wrestling team was returning to Norman from a tournament in Pauls Valley. According to the court documents, Shipman, Gandenberger and Smith each assaulted the 16-year-old at the back of the bus by restraining him and using their fingers to sexually assault the boy over his clothing.
Later, all four suspects attempted to lure a 12-year-old middle school wrestler to the back of the bus as well, before pulling the boy to the back. All four suspects then assault the boy in the same manner as before. This time, however, the suspects placed a condom over their fingers before the assault, the report states.
When the bus arrived back at Norman North, the 12-year-old was assaulted again; once in a secluded area on the side of the building and again between two vehicle in the parking lot when the victim briefly escaped. According to the report, the assault only ended when the 12-year-old boy’s parent arrived at the school.
Shipman was charged with one count of Rape By Instrumentation with Force and one count of Rape By Instrumentation Upon a Person Under 14.
Gandenberger was charged with one count of Rape By Instrumentation with Force and two counts of Rape By Instrumentation Upon a Person Under 14.
Smith was charged with one count of Rape By Instrumentation with Force and two counts of Rape By Instrumentation Upon a Person Under 14.
Matthews was charged with one count of Rape By Instrumentation Upon a Person Under 14.
All of the suspects have been suspended and are no longer in school. One adjunct coach was fired and another coach was placed on suspension when the incident was first reported. News 9 has learned that the second coach has now resigned.
Norman Schools Superintendent Dr. Joseph Siano released the following statement on this situation:
“Student safety is a top priority and we followed procedures we have in place that allow us to effectively investigate and take swift action in these situations. We appreciate the individuals who came forward to provide information, the Norman Police Department’s thorough investigation and the quick action by the District Attorney on this incident. We are well-prepared to handle situations like this and have programs in place to support students who experience trauma. And, while we believe the district’s policies regarding student supervision are strong, we continuously evaluate our procedures to ensure they are followed. As we address the inappropriate behavior displayed by several students, we remain committed to supporting the vast majority of our student athletes, who are quality individuals that demonstrate positive behavior and strong character traits.”
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