Lawyer denies inappropriate conduct by girls wrestling coach on leave in North Texas

Editor's note: This story, published Monday, was updated Tuesday with statements from the coaches' attorneys.

Two girls wrestling coaches have been placed on paid leave from Burleson Centennial High School after the assistant coach was accused of inappropriate comments and conduct, according to a statement from the Burleson school district.

Campus administrators learned on the afternoon of Oct. 23 about “allegations against Assistant Wrestling Coach Jacob Irwin involving inappropriate comments and conduct,” Burleson ISD said in the statement Monday. “Administrators immediately opened an investigation, relieved both the assistant and Head Coach William Wilson of all duties, reported the matter to law enforcement, and contacted parents.”

An attorney who represents Irwin said he has been falsely accused.

“Jacob Irwin did nothing improper or inappropriate with students in his wrestling program,” attorney Chohn T. Hickman said in an email Tuesday to the Star-Telegram. “The allegations against him are retaliatory. The students abused a seventh period ‘flex’ study hall program by leaving campus early. When discovered by Jacob Irwin, it was stopped. The allegations against Jacob Irwin followed. The incidents embellished by students occurred weeks prior to reporting to the school.”

The incident in question happened while Irwin was teaching wrestling “in front of the entire class, and video taped, from what I understand,” Hickman said.

The student involved “continued to attend Mr. Irwin’s classes as if nothing happened” and the situation was reported to school officials weeks later, Hickman said.

The attorney said that Irwin has never touched a student sexually, and he blasted the school district for releasing “defamatory details of the situation prior to an investigation.”

“How do you coach wrestling without touching the opponent?” Hickman said. “There are 10 girls in the wrestling program and no female wrestling coach. The situation was ripe for falsifying a claim of improper touching.”

Wilson’s attorney, Tiger Hanner, said in an email Monday that Wilson has been placed on paid administrative leave while an investigation is conducted into the allegations against Irwin. “Coach Wilson is fully cooperating with that investigation and remains the Centennial Head Wrestling Coach at this time,” Hanner said.

Hanner said Tuesday he has not been notified of any allegations being leveled against Coach Wilson.

The district did not release details of the allegations against Irwin or say why school officials placed Wilson on leave.

Burleson ISD Superintendent Bret Jimerson said in a statement that, “These allegations, if true, are outrageous — a breach of the bond between students and their teacher. We will fully cooperate with the Burleson Police Department in this matter.”

No criminal charges have been filed. A Burleson police spokesperson told the Star-Telegram that the investigation is active and police “do not currently have information we can share.”

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In addition to their coaching duties, Irwin is a math teacher at the high school and Wilson teaches science, according to the school’s website.