A McCallie School coach from the 1990s who is now deceased is being accused of abusing students at the private prep school.
Two former students said Steven Lee "Steve" Carpenter sexually abused them.
Carpenter was the basketball coach at McCallie for 11 seasons - through 1999. He was boys basketball coach at Ridgeland High School beginning in 2000.
Carpenter was arrested in Dalton, Ga., on July 22, 2001, after reportedly striking a Whitfield County police officer during a concert. Carpenter was attending an Everclear concert at the Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center and was extremely intoxicated, according to police. He did not return the next year as the Ridgeland coach.
A native Texan, Carpenter attended school in Fort Worth until moving to Graham, Tx., in 1965. The family moved to Columbia, Tn., in 1968 where he graduated from Columbia High School.
He was baptized by minister John Vaughn at Greymere Church of Christ in Columbia. The church sponsored his education at Freed-Hardeman College in Henderson, Tn., for three years, and David Lipscomb College in Nashville, where he graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of arts and masters degree.
McCallie was the fourth school at which he taught and coached.
At the time he left McCallie, Athletic Director Bill Cherry said, "We deeply appreciate Coach Carpenter’s contribution to the athletic program. He is a dedicated coach and has worked hard to raise McCallie basketball to a new level. His teams always play hard and have been fundamentally sound."
Carpenter said at the time, "My time at McCallie has been great both personally and professionally. But I think it is best for my long-term career objectives to leave at the end of this year. I will miss McCallie, and especially the outstanding young men I have had the opportunity to coach. I am proud of them and of their accomplishments."
Carpenter’s McCallie teams compiled a 145-135 record, including two regional championships. The 1993-94 team won 20 games to make it to the sub-state tournament round. The 1994-95 team also won 20 games.
In addition to coaching basketball, Carpenter served as an English teacher and as a dormitory assistant at McCallie.
Carpenter was living at Charles Town, WV, when he died in 2016 at the age of 60.
His obituary says, "As a servant of God, youth minister, coach, and teacher, his life was dedicated to helping children. He served as youth minister in Churches of Christ in Stiversville, Tn., Evansville, Ind., and under Rubel Shelly at Ashwood Church of Christ in Nashville. While ministering at Ashwood, he decided more children could be reached as a coach and teacher. Having made that decision, the remainder of his life was dedicated to teaching, encouraging, and helping children reach a higher standard of life and accomplishment than they could never even imagine was possible for them to achieve. Steven believed a child must be reached before life's demons crushed his dreams."
Headmaster Lee Burns sent this statement:
Dear McCallie Community,
We are writing today about an unsettling situation that we feel is important to share directly with you. McCallie’s administration has received allegations from two former students that, during their time here in the 1990s, a former faculty member, Steve Carpenter, sexually abused them. Mr. Carpenter was employed by McCallie from 1989 to 2000 and is now deceased.
Since becoming aware of these allegations, McCallie’s administration and Board of Trustees have engaged in an effort to understand the facts of the situation. We have engaged Fisher and Phillips, LLP, nationally recognized experts, to represent us in this matter and to conduct a full review of Mr. Carpenter’s time at McCallie.
We invite anyone who may have been sexually abused by Mr. Carpenter or by any McCallie faculty or staff – as well as anyone who has information regarding such abuse – to come forward. The investigation is being led by Suzanne Bogdan, who can be reached directly at 954-847-4729 or by e-mail at email@example.com. If you prefer, you can reach out to Thomas Hayes, McCallie’s general counsel, at 423-493-5602 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The health, safety, and well-being of our students is our first priority as a school. Sexual abuse in any form is unacceptable. It is at odds with our values as a school and with the entire profession of education.
We remain committed to ensuring that our campus is a safe place for boys to live and learn, and we have developed policies and practices that we believe protect our students. To continue to ensure that McCallie is doing everything possible to keep our students safe, we are conducting a comprehensive review of our policies and practices, as well as our professional training for faculty and staff. This includes continuing to respect appropriate boundaries among faculty and staff and students, understanding the duty to report, and being aware of sexual abuse in all of its forms.
While we know that the weeks ahead will be challenging for our community, it is important to go through this process together for the benefit of our past, current, and future students. For more than a century, McCallie has placed a priority on living our values of honor, truth, and duty in a way that glorifies God. We are grateful for the support and trust shown to us by our thousands of alumni, parents, and friends of the school.