PRP principal gives sworn deposition in civil case concerning player's death - News, Weather & Sports

PRP principal gives sworn deposition in civil case concerning player's death

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David Johnson David Johnson
Max Gilpin (Photo courtesy: Max Gilpin (Photo courtesy:
Jason Stinson Jason Stinson

By Connie Leonard - bio | email
Posted by Charles Gazaway - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - In his sworn deposition, the Pleasure Ridge Park High School principal indicates the school never did a thorough investigation into the collapse and death of football player Max Gilpin.

David Johnson said he did not even know Gilpin and another player had collapsed until the school's athletic director informed him the next day. Head football coach Jason Stinson has already been criminally charged with reckless homicide in Gilpin's death, but this deposition was taken in the civil case brought by the player's parents. They are suing Stinson and five other PRP coaches accusing them of negligence.

During Johnson's deposition, taken last week, attorneys for the parents of Gilpin aimed their line of questioning at the principal's investigation, or what they alluded to as a lack of one. They asked Johnson about e-mails he either received or heard about concerning the August 20th practice when Gilpin and another player collapsed. Johnson was asked why he did not ask Stinson about e-mails like the one from Brian Bale, a Waggener High School parent who was at his daughter's soccer game that day next to the football field. In his e-mail, Bale stated he heard the coach, "verbally blister the kids when they asked for water." Bale went on to say, "The whole thing was appalling and made quite a few of us on the sidelines pretty angry." 

Even though Bale's e-mail was sent to the Jefferson County Public Schools central office, it came up several times in media reports. Johnson said he believed those allegations to be false. When asked about e-mails sent directly to him, Johnson referred to some e-mails as "hate mail."

"When I receive those things, I delete them immediately," Johnson stated.

Johnson received one e-mail from Beverly Jaggers, a Pleasure Ridge Park resident. In her e-mail, Jaggers stated, "I hope the administration of PRP High School does a complete investigation into the death of Max Gilpin. Maybe this coach should be asked to step down." 

In an e-mail to Jaggers, Johnson responded, "I will excuse your e-mail as ignorance of the situation." At a later point in the e-mail, Johnson states, "I have done a very thorough investigation of the practice." That statement contradicts what Johnson told attorneys when he said he left the investigation up to his athletic director, Craig Webb. 

The following is part of Johnson's deposition.

Attorney: "The fact that two children went to the hospital on August 20th, one that died at the hospital, you have no documents whatsoever maintained in your office or anywhere relating to that event?"

Johnson: "Not personal documents, no." 

Attorney: "If you received an e-mail from anyone who was in attendance at the soccer game or football practice, would it be your practice to retain it and forward it to the school board?" 

Johnson: "If it's just an opinionated e-mail, I would delete them."

The attorneys asked what Johnson found out from Stinson. Johnson said two days after Gilpin collapsed, he talked to Stinson briefly at the hospital about the practice and he believed Stinson to be truthful.

Attorney: "Did Stinson tell you what his role was in assisting Max?"

Johnson: "No." 

Attorney: "To this day you don't know what Mr. Stinson did to assist Max?"

Johnson: "No."

Attorney: "Have you ever asked him?"

Johnson: "No."

In an attempt to possibly prove the school was interested in protecting itself, attorneys for the Gilpin family did enter into evidence several e-mails circulating among Johnson and other school officials looking into what kind of performance enhancing drugs Gilpin may have been taking. Johnson was also asked about a letter from the commissioner of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association asking for the school's final investigation of Gilpin's collapse. Johnson said he did not know if anything was ever turned over to the KHSAA.