Former Kimball High School football coach speaks about closed investigation

Eric Chaloux
Updated: July 16, 2020 06:09 PM
Created: July 16, 2020 05:34 PM

The Stearns County Attorney declined to file charges in the investigation involving former Kimball High School football coach Johnny Benson, according to a letter provided to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

“It was hard, obviously," said Johnny Benson describing the criminal investigation that stretched from the fall to spring. “I’m not going to be knocked down, I’m not going to be humiliated, I’m not embarrassed by something, I didn’t do.”

The attorney’s office reviewed reports, interviews and test results before making that decision to end the investigation.

Back in October, law enforcement reports said officers were called to a St. Cloud hospital to investigate a "possible sexual assault" after a player's family felt he wasn't himself after football practice.

A warrant alleged the player recalled being treated with medicine by the coach for a lower back injury.

Law enforcement reports said the player didn't remember if he "had fallen asleep or what had happened," and his mother later found him alone in the locker room.

Benson said he spoke with the player for a couple hours about a recent coaching decision involving discipline.

“We were having a heart-to-heart about his position change, and how it would or wouldn’t affect him and his college recruiting,” Benson said. “Of course, nothing inappropriate happened in the locker room.”

The Kimball school district began its own internal investigation back in the fall into the teacher and coach.

“Next thing I know I’m being escorted to the office, I was told by my principal that I was fired for sexual assault … I asked her, 'Who? What? Where?'” Benson said.

Benson resigned from his teaching and coaching position while the district investigation was being conducted.

“I didn’t have tenure, they were going to recommend termination at the school board meeting, through consultation with my union lawyer we decided, 'No, you can’t fire me, I quit,'” Benson said. “Had I had the right representation, at the time, I think I’d have that job at Kimball right now … it’s the biggest mistake I’ve made through this process.”

Benson said he’s considering new teaching and coaching job offers as he moves forward.

“I’m going to get back into it, this is not going to affect me, I’m resilient, if I fold under this … the first time something bad has happened to me … what kind of message would that send to the kids,” Benson said.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reached out to the family of the former player who said they’ve been advised not to discuss the situation at this point in time.

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