COVINGTON, Ga. -- An assistant wrestling coach has been arrested and faces several charges after allegedly choking a child.
Jacob Hoke is the assistant wrestling coach at Liberty Middle School in Covington, Georgia. On Jan. 5, he was accused of choking a student during practice.
That student was 13-year-old Gabrielle Ragland, a seventh-grader at the school. His mother, Jhantee Daire told 11Alive's Jon Shirek what happened. She said Gabrielle and a teammate, who is also Hoke's younger brother, were practicing choke hold moves on each other.
"I guess the older brother didn't appreciate my son putting him in a choke hold so he decided to take it upon himself to choke my son," Daire said.
Her son told her the assistant coach choked him from behind.
"He didn't even know that he was coming," she said. "He just came up from behind him and just put him in a chokehold and he said he lifted him off his feet."
Several students on the team witnessed the incident according to the report from Newton County Sheriff's Department. Gabrielle's grandfather called 911 when he came to pick the teen up from the practice. Daire said her stepdad noticed that Gabrielle was upset when he picked him up.
"So he asked him what happened and he told him ... the guy choked him," she said.
According to the incident report, Hoke was no longer at the school when deputies arrived. The head coach told responding deputies that the school administration was notified of the incident and a report noted that there were no visible marks left on Gabrielle.
The sheriff's office investigated and, on Tuesday, Hoke was arrested and charged with cruelty to children in the first degree, disorderly conduct, battery, and cruelty to a child in the second degree.
Daire called the entire incident unnecessary.
"If he felt like my son did anything wrong he should have went to the head coach and addressed it with him and then even further to come to me and tell me what was going on and we could have addressed the matter," she said. "It was senseless, it didn't make any sense for him to put his hands on my son at all."
Daire said Gabrielle was scared when it happened but is fine now. He is still practicing with the team. She said that nothing in her previous interactions with him raised a red flag.
"I just don't understand what can go through a normal person's head to cause harm to a child," she said.
We reached Hoke, who is out on bond, at his home. He answered the door but said he would not comment other than to say that he had a lawyer. He then closed the door.
Hoke is charged with battery, cruelty to child in the 1st degree, disorderly conduct and six counts of cruelty to child in the 3rd degree.
Hoke has been an educator in the state since 2012 when he was first issued a certificate, according to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. He has had no ethics violations filed on his official record.
The Newton County School System released a statement saying Hoke, who is also a teacher at South Salem Elementary School, on administrative leave and read in part:
"We are aware of Mr. Hoke’s arrest. He is currently on administrative leave pending the outcome of our investigation. As this is a personnel matter under investigation, we cannot release more information at this time."