Exclusive: Mother of high school football player allegedly assaulted by coach speaks

Lucy Yang reports from Ramapo, Rockland County
October 22, 2013 2:54:31 PM PDT
A football coach in the East Ramapo school district has been arrested and released from his coaching duties after being arrested, and the mother of the victim is exclusively speaking to Eyewitness News.

Eyewitness News spoke to the mother of the victim, 15-year old Brandon Girrault, and she says she was never called by the school to notify her of the incident, but it was Ramapo High School head coach Duffman Pannell himself that called her.

She says Pannell called her after practice yesterday to say there had been an incident with her son.

"He was dragging him down with the helmet, so when my son couldn't breathe, he tried to take his helmet off, so he took it off, and then the coach dragged the helmet and hit him on the right side," said the mother, Madeleine Blaine.

The victim told her he was able to get his helmet off while not being able to breathe, and it was at that point the coach allegedly swung the helmet, striking the child.

As a result Girrault now has a gash about this right eye, swelling and a concussion.

"How could you hit my son on the right side of his forehead with a helmet," Blaine said.

The mother called 911, and police came to the school and arrested Pannell.

The boy was taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a concussion, and a bruised and swolen eye.

Pannell has been released from custody and is due back in court on October 29th.

Pannell faces charges of 2nd degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

"Can you believe that, I send my son to school and he's supposed to be safe and then this is what happened," said Blaine.

Brandon, a six-foot linebacker, insisted on going to school Tuesday so he wouldn't miss a test.

His mother said the coach may have meant to lash out at another player but mistakenly went after her son.

Either way the coach is now facing criminal charges while this mother is left picking up the fragile pieces.

"I had to take him to the emergency room last night, and he has a concussion on his head, and I have to take him to doctors, and to a shrink, to make sure emotionally he's gonna be OK," she said.

The school district released the following statement:
"It has come to our attention that there was an incident involving a coach and a student. We are conducting an internal investigation in conjunction with the Ramapo Police Department. The coach was arrested and released. Until the investigation is completed, the coach has been released from his coaching responsibilities."