OTTUMWA, Iowa — A father is speaking out after his son was assaulted inside the local YMCA locker room.
“No stop, ow!” 11-year-old Brian Hager Jr. screamed in the video.
“He was hanging out with his friends and they were going to swim and next thing you know, I got a video 20 minutes later,” Brian Hager Sr. said.
It’s a video that’s hard to watch for the father, but it’s how he found out his 6th-grade son was assaulted Friday afternoon.
“I didn’t realize what I was watching. I had to watch it two or three extra times before it kicked in, ‘hey that’s my son right there,’” Hager said.
You can see in the video a kid twice Brian’s size and years older punched him, repeatedly, while others just stood there recording it on their phones.
“Honestly, it was mind boggling. I mean no child or parent should have to witness that,” Hager said. The father says he is upset with how everything was handled.
“My son went upstairs and told the staff and they just tried to say, ‘oh you’ll be OK.’ They didn’t offer to call police. They didn’t offer, ‘hey what’s your mother or father’s phone number? We can reach out to them.’ They just kicked the kids out and tried to brush it under the table,” Hager said.
The YMCA said they weren’t immediately aware of the incident and released a statement on Facebook saying:
“The Ottumwa Family YMCA does not condone violence or bullying in any way and we work diligently to prevent instances like this from happening in our facilities. The safety and well-being of every YMCA member and guest is of the utmost importance to all our staff and administration.”
The YMCA also said they would be reviewing their policies and procedures to prevent future incidents.
“When these types of situations occur, we do look at them seriously and we investigate them like any other crime,” Ottumwa Police Chief Tom McAndrew said. “If we are able to develop probable cause and can make an arrest, we will do that.”
The police did get involved and say they’ve charged the one juvenile with assault. But that’s not enough for Hager, whose son sits beside him with a visible bruise on his face.
Even though school isn’t out until June 12 for Ottumwa, the parents are keeping him home in fear he will get hurt again.
“It’s not cool. It needs to be stopped. And if your son or daughter has a video like this, you need to talk to them about it,” Hager said.
The students involved attend Evans Middle School, which houses 6th through 8th graders. While the school can’t talk about specific children, they did say they are a positive behavior intervention support school and have a behavior interventionist to help work with parents and students when issues arise.