Oregon DA changes course, will prosecute Wahl case

Former teacher, coach John Wahl to be arraigned in December

An Oregon district attorney has changed course and will pursue the case against a former Thunder Mountain football coach accused of knocking a player unconscious during a boxing match at a football camp last year.

District Attorney Everett Dial said earlier this week that he had charged former Floyd Dryden teacher and Falcons coach John Wahl with criminal mistreatment, a felony, and assault in the fourth degree, a misdemeanor. But he said he planned to dismiss the case, citing budget cuts and a lack of funds to bring the alleged victim to Oregon.

He said he decided to move forward with the case a day later after an article published in the Juneau Empire resulted in positive financial support from the Juneau community.

“After the article went out, apparently a lot of people read it, and some have called us to say they will raise money to fly the boy down here,” Dial said. “So we are going forward with the case. I have never had that happen before.”

Dial said his original motion to dismiss without prejudice was signed and ready to be delivered when calls of support began coming in. Dial instead called defense attorney Jonah Morningstar to say he would be pursuing the charges.

Dial, who has worked in the district attorney’s office since 1989, was amazed at the responses received.

“It was really nice that happened,” Dial said.

Wahl is scheduled to be arraigned Dec. 11.

The juvenile victim will only have to travel to Oregon if the case proceeds to trial.

Wahl and Falcons head coach Bill Byouer were removed from their teaching positions at Floyd Dryden after a video of the 2012 boxing incident surfaced toward the end of the last school year. In the video, Wahl is seen boxing with a then-14-year-old incoming freshman while the team was at a football camp in Gold Beach, Ore. The student at one point turned his back to Wahl after receiving several blows, at which time Wahl threw a hard blow striking the youth on the side and back of the head. After the teen fell unconscious to the floor Wahl could be seen parading in front of dozens of cheering football players with his arms raised in victory.

The student’s father told the Juneau Empire in a previous interview that his son experienced numerous problems following the boxing match with Wahl, including bullying, low self-esteem and fear of retaliation if he spoke up about what happened during the football camp. Byouer previously said he was unaware about what transpired.

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