High School Football Coach Arrested After Allegedly Hitting Player with a Helmet

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistOctober 23, 2013

Courtesy: Lohud.com/Journal News
Courtesy: Lohud.com/Journal News

Duffman Pannell, the varsity football coach at Ramapo High School in New York, has been charged with felony assault after he allegedly struck a player with a helmet during practice.

Steve Lieberman of The Journal News reports that the complaint connected with the second-degree assault charge states junior Brandon Girault said Pannell swung the helmet and hit him above the left eye during practice on Monday.

Pannell was charged with second-degree assault based on the severity of the injuries and with endangering the welfare of a child. He was released without bail by Justice Alan Simon on Monday night and is due in court Oct. 29.

Girault, who signed a felony complaint filed by police with Ramapo Town Court, wrote that Pannell swung the helmet with his right hand to "purposely strike him in the head, causing considerable pain, swelling and bleeding above his left eye."

East Ramapo School District superintendent Joel Klein released a statement, which acknowledged the incident is currently being investigated and that Pannell would not coach while the process is ongoing.

Pannell, a social studies teacher, has not been suspended but will not coach or teach during the investigation, district Superintendent Joel Klein said in a statement.

"We are conducting an internal investigation in conjunction with the Ramapo Police Department ... Until the investigation is completed, the coach has been released from his coaching responsibilities," the statement read.

The Journal News report goes on to say practice resumed as scheduled on Tuesday with defensive coordinator Kevin Bullock taking over the head-coaching role.    

Via WABC in New York
Via WABC in New York

The team, which was almost eliminated due to budget issues, qualified for the playoffs and is set to play a quarterfinal game against White Plains on Friday. It is the first time since 2008 that the school's varsity squad reached the postseason.

Klein said the entire team was at practice during the alleged assault and the process of interviewing the players, which could take quite some time, is currently underway.

Right now we have to find out exactly what’s going on by speaking to the witnesses. The whole team was there so it could be a lengthy process. Witnesses sometimes see things differently.

The Journal News reached two members of the student body, who both expressed surprise at the allegations against Pannell. Security kept media away from practice on Tuesday, however, and said players were told not to discuss the matter publicly.  

When reached at home, the player's mother declined comment on the situation. Pannell and the school's athletic director, Bill Pilla, also didn't respond to the paper's attempts for comment.