Pet monkey bite leads to lawsuit against Texas assistant coach and dancer girlfriend

·3 min read
Michael Thomas/AP

Texas assistant football coach Jeff Banks and his girlfriend, Danielle Thomas, are being sued by a couple who say that their child was bitten by Thomas’ pet monkey on Halloween, according to the lawsuit filed in the Travis County District Court in Austin.

According to the lawsuit, obtained by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the child identified as C.C. and two of his friends were invited to attend a haunted house set up by Thomas at her home on Oct. 31. The three were “taken to a monkey” in the backyard that was trained to give high-fives, which C.C. then attempted to do.

“Instead of giving a high five, Danielle Thomas’ monkey aggressively bit down on C.C.’s hand and refused to let go,” the lawsuit says. “C.C. was forced to manually pry the monkey’s jaw open. There was so much blood that C.C. was unable to see the full extent of the injury.”

The lawsuit says that the child’s injury was treated by a physician who lived nearby and was able to clean and dress the wound. After being told about the injury by the doctor and another neighbor, Thomas was only concerned about her monkey’s well-being, the suit says.

“Instead of showing any semblance of care for an injured child, Danielle Thomas was instead worried about the risk of her monkey being taken away,” the lawsuit says. “The physician informed Thomas that the incident would require a health department report and that additional information on the monkey’s vaccination status would be appreciated so that an appropriate course of treatment for C.C. could be decided.”

Thomas responded that “the monkey had bitten her before and she was fine,” the suit says.

McClatchy News has reached out to the Texas Athletics communications staff for comment but has not heard back.

The alleged attack was first reported in a tweet by Texas sports photographer Tom Campbell early in November, leading Thomas to respond to the allegations on Twitter, saying that the child had “no permission to go pass the gate” into her backyard, USA Today reported with screen shots.

“I had a haunted house on one side gated off/ he had no permission to go pass the gate I had no idea he went in my back yard,” said one tweet from the account that has since been deleted, Bleacher Report reported.

When asked if the monkey was vaccinated, Thomas responded, media outlets said.

“Yes she has had all her shot she an emotional support animal who not to be touched,” she responded in a tweet reported by USA Today.

Campbell took a screen grab of a Nextdoor post of Banks inviting neighbors to come to the haunted house/maze set up.

Austin Animal Services also confirmed that it was investigating the situation, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

In the lawsuit, Thomas is identified as “Pole Assassin,” which is her stage name as a dancer, ESPN said.

Banks is the current assistant head coach/special teams coordinator and tight ends coach at the University of Texas Austin who has held the position for less than a year. Before, he worked alongside Nick Saban at Alabama for three seasons, helping lead the Crimson Tide to two national championships and winning one in 2020, says.

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