published Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Tennessee girls’ prep school coach arrested, charged with statutory rape

NASHVILLE — Police in Nashville say three more girls have come forward, saying they were sexually victimized by the soccer coach at a private girls’ school.

The Tennessean reported police charged George Henry Laise on Tuesday with two counts of statutory rape by an authority figure and two counts of rape involving a victim with a mental incapacity. Investigators said the latter charges involve a 16-year-old girl who is recovering from a concussion.

Authorities said the 46-year-old coach tried to kill himself Wednesday night in the Davidson County Jail. Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Karla West said Laise was discovered with a bedsheet around his neck. He was taken to a hospital.

The sheriff’s office said Thursday that Laise was released from Vanderbilt University Hospital and was taken the Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute for evaluation.

Laise was arrested on the campus of Harpeth Hall.

The girl with the head injury is not a student at the school, but is a member of traveling soccer team that Laise coached. Metro Nashville Police spokesman Don Aaron said investigators are checking to see if the case goes beyond Nashville.

“We are in contact with entities in other jurisdictions,” Aaron said Wednesday. “Today, detectives were in Cheatham County continuing their work on this case.”

Deputy prosecutor Robert Wilson of the 23rd Judicial District, which includes Cheatham County, where Laise lives, confirmed a local investigation.

“We’re definitely involved,” Wilson said. “The investigation’s just started.”

“The victim in the warrants (from Tuesday) reported that the sexual conversation took place between (her and Laise) as they were flying back from Las Vegas after a soccer tournament,” Aaron said. “One of the newest persons mentioned something that would have occurred in Shelby County during a soccer trip in Memphis.”

The district attorney’s office in Shelby County did not acknowledge a local investigation of Laise.

Harpeth Hall placed Laise on administrative absence, pending the investigation outcome.

Harpeth Hall Head of School Add Teaff also released a prepared statement Tuesday.

“Mr. Laise is a well-respected coach not only at Harpeth Hall but in the greater community,” she wrote. “We have never received accusations of inappropriate behavior by Mr. Laise.”

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