- Associated Press - Thursday, January 5, 2017

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - The only adult still facing charges in a rape case involving Tennessee high school basketball players plans to appeal a judge’s decision allowing a local prosecutor to remain on the case.

The attorney for Gatlinburg Police Department Detective Rodney Burns said Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston should not be allowed to prosecute the case because of a civil defamation claim Burns has filed against Pinkston, news outlets reported.

Burns faces two counts of aggravated perjury regarding his testimony about a 15-year-old freshman Ooltewah High School basketball player who prosecutors said was sexually assaulted by his teammates in an apparent hazing incident.

Judge Tom Greenholtz ruled in October that Pinkston can prosecute the case. On Wednesday, Greenholtz allowed Burns to ask the Tennessee Court of Appeals to review his decision.

“The court believes it has applied the right standard,” Greenholtz said, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press (https://bit.ly/2j9nFvI). “But I am never under the opinion that I am the one that has all the answers.”

If the higher court chooses not to reverse Greenholtz’s decision, a jury trial is scheduled to begin June 27.

The perjury charges against Burns stem from his testimony at a Feb. 15 preliminary hearing for three school officials.

Burns testified during the hearing that the assault had been blown out of proportion and was “something stupid that kids do.”

According to the indictment in Hamilton County, Burns testified there were no “screams of anguish” during the incident, even though his written police reports noted that one witness told police a “victim yelled out in pain.”

The freshman needed emergency surgery after being assaulted with a pool cue in a Gatlinburg cabin, police said. Four freshman players were assaulted during the December 2015 trip, authorities said.

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