In Ninnekah Public Schools, more details are coming to light about how a girls' basketball coach could have groomed and sexually abused girls for years.
Ronald Gene Akins was arrested in June for rape charges. Now, a federal lawsuit is filed by 12 of his former players who claim the district officials and law enforcement officers failed them.
One former Ninnekah girls' basketball player explained the team's culture.
She said Akins and the assistant coach Charles Yackeyonney, who is named in the federal lawsuit, made sexual and inappropriate comments about the players all the time.
She said this hyper-sexualized environment made inappropriate behavior seem normal.
“He puts his hand on my thigh and he says, 'You know why I love your long hair? Because I’ve always had a crush on you. Ever since I met you,' and in my head I’m like, 'he’s known me since I was in elementary school,'” she said.
He then tried to tell her it was a joke.
“I go to walk out of the office, and he gets between me and the hallway of the office, and says like, 'it’s just a joke, it’s not that big of a deal,'” she said.
She said Akins hid his behavior from other adults except from those closest to the team.
“He’s very careful on who he said things in front of. He would only say it in front of the assistant coach or the volunteer,” she said.
Yackeyonney was the assistant coach and the district’s Title IX coordinator.
Tammara Garrett is the volunteer chaperone.
Both were named individually in the lawsuit filed by Jane Does #1 through #12 on Friday.
In court documents, Yackeyonney is described on one occasion as giving “laughing approval” of Akins’ comments to Jane Doe #3, and as saying he was going to “bang” her mother.
Jane Doe #3 said she was forced to perform oral sex on Akins on multiple occasions.
Allegations against Yackeyonney include pursuing a sexual relationship with Jane Doe #8, who was also a victim of Akins.
Rumors ran wild at Ninnekah.
Garrett reports knowing rumors about the Ninnekah player who spoke for this story, but she didn’t report concerns about Akins.
She said she warned girls not to go in Akins office alone, according to Grady County investigation documents.
“I message Tammy on Facebook and I said, 'why are you telling people that I was in Akins office with the door locked, giving him favors for playing time?' and she responds, 'I said that I cannot confirm or deny what was going on because it happened with more than one and my first-hand knowledge could have been just as damning for the students as it was for him,'” she said.
News 9 has obtained a screenshot of this Facebook communication to confirm it happened.
A school board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at Ninnekah. Community members are on the agenda to speak about issues in the school.