Did Colonial Heights school properly investigate complaints about coach? A delegate wants to know.

Posted at 5:14 PM, Dec 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-28 15:30:23-05

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. -- The Virginia State Police are reviewing a request from Delegate Mike Cherry (R-66) to initiate an investigation into accusations that crimes were covered up at Colonial Heights High School.

Cherry said his concerns came after viewing our recent CBS 6 investigation concerning inappropriate conduct allegations against former Colonial Heights softball coach, Jeff Faries, who also used to be the Colonial Heights Police Chief.

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"The reason for my involvement was actually based on your story," Cherry said.

In CBS 6's investigation, former assistant softball Coach Alicia Allen claimed she complained numerous times to the athletic director at Colonial Heights High School in the spring of 2021 about inappropriate behavior by then-head coach Jeff Faries, but nothing was done, so she resigned.

"It was a very toxic, unhealthy, unprotected environment for myself as a female and for the young ladies," Allen said. "I felt personally it was brushed under the rug."

City Attorney Chip Fisher said the school system told him it has no record of Allen's complaints.

"You have one person saying one thing, and one person saying another, and they can't both be telling the truth," Cherry said. "There is a sense in this community, or a perception really, that the system did not work and to a person that I've spoken to they said 'thank you' for at least making sure the system worked and it worked properly."

Faries retired as chief back in April, one month after the city put him on administrative leave pending a state police investigation into accusations made by several of his former players.

Ultimately, a special prosecutor said she believed there was evidence that a crime or crimes had been committed by Faries when he was coach. However, no charges were filed because the statute of limitations had passed.

Cherry said he wants a new investigation that focuses on how the school system handled complaints against Faries.

"We want to encourage people to speak up and tell us what you know," Cherry said. "The system is supposed to be such that if there is a complaint made there is an investigation, and from what we can tell, they didn't even investigate the claims, they just shut it down and went on their merry way."

"It may not be criminal, but it still may be wrong and I think that's what we need to get to the bottom of," Cherry added.

Colonial Heights Superintendent Dr. William Sroufe released the following statement regarding the accusations:

"Recent allegations that the school system has engaged in a cover up regarding former softball coach Jeff Faries are disappointing and inaccurate. Colonial Heights Public Schools takes all complaints of inappropriate or unprofessional behavior very seriously. Concerns regarding Mr. Faries were investigated and addressed promptly and appropriately by school staff. In light of a recent media report that a former assistant coach claimed to have emailed school staff a letter detailing complaints about Mr. Faries, a thorough review of the school system’s electronic records was conducted and there is no record of any such letter being sent or received. The school system cooperated in the Virginia State Police’s investigation earlier this year. To our knowledge, neither the Virginia State Police, nor the Special Prosecutor found any wrongdoing or cover up by school staff."

In the meantime, Faries has appealed his law enforcement decertification with the Virginia Department of Criminal Justices Services.

He has a hearing on January 20 at 10 am.