Coach placed on leave after soccer player with autism duct taped to goal post



HARRISON TOWNSHIP, Pa. - The coach of the varsity boys soccer team at Highlands High School has been placed on paid leave following an incident involving several players.

The mother of a Highlands High School student with autism said her son’s soccer teammates duct taped him to a goal post over the weekend.

Austin Babinsack’s mom, Kristie Babinsack, said her son went to school Wednesday following the incident.

“To be honest, when he walked out that door and headed for the bus, I broke down,” said Kristie Babinsack.

Kristie Babinsack said her son was proud to be on the soccer team.

“There’s a sweat suit they all have with their name and numbers.  He wears that to bed.  He wears it every weekend,” said Kristie Babinsack.

Her son’s pride is what’s so baffling about the phone call she got from Harrison Township police Sunday night.

Babinsack said a woman heard her son’s cries for help and then saw him duct taped to the goal post.  The woman called police.

“He was bawling.  He was terrified,” said Kristie Babinsack.

She said she’s worried what happened to her son is part of a troubling tradition at the school.

“If the only thing I do out of all of this is show everybody that it isn’t going to happen here again, in this town, not as long as I’m here, not to my kid and not to anybody else’s kid,” said Kristie Babinsack.

The district said it is aware of the incident and does not take matters such as hazing or bullying lightly.  The district also said it issues strict disciplinary action on students who think those actions are appropriate or harmless.

Kristie Babinsack is pleased with the way the school district has handled the incident so far.

Police are investigating and deciding whether or not to file criminal charges.

Despite Sunday’s incident, Austin attended his team’s soccer game Monday night. His mom said while there, members of the team called him a “snitch” and he decided to quit the team.

“I just explained to him that people are always going to talk and try to bring you down.   Just walk in that school and hold your head high,” said Kristie Babinsack.