Fmr. Colonial Heights softball coach says school system brushed concerns about Jeff Faries 'under the rug'

Posted at 4:08 PM, Dec 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-20 23:23:11-05

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. -- Alicia Allen said she immediately got a "bad vibe" from then-head coach Jeff Faries when she became an assistant softball coach with the varsity team at Colonial Heights High School in December of 2020.

"He was patronizing, he made everybody feel uncomfortable, especially if you were a female," Allen said.

Prior to moving to varsity, she was the coach of the Colonial Heights High School junior varsity softball team.

Allen said Faries made unwanted physical contact with her and she said she witnessed him do the same thing to some of the girls on the team.

"He would brush up against their backs, pull them close to him, put his arm around their shoulder, be just below their lower back line, he would kiss them on the forehead," Allen said.

Allen said she felt the behavior was inappropriate enough to take her concerns to Athletic Director Gerald Carsley in April and May of 2021.

Allen's husband and another person associated with the school system corroborated her story.

"I would call him and say 'this is what is going on. I am not comfortable with it, the players are admitting to me they're not comfortable with it, he's giving the girls rides home, is he touching them'," Allen said. "It was to the point where I was in tears."

Around the same time, Colonial Heights City Attorney Chip Fisher told CBS 6 that a parent also complained to Carsley about the way Faries was hugging players.

Fisher said the school system told him the Athletic Director met with Faries and addressed the issue, but Allen claims her allegations fell on deaf ears.

"Nothing was changing, my concerns were not heard," Allen said. "It was a very toxic, unhealthy, unprotected environment for myself as a female, and for the young ladies," Allen said.

Allen said she was so frustrated with the situation that she resigned before the start of the next season while Faries, who was also Colonial Heights' Chief of Police, was kept as head coach.

"I felt personally it was brushed under the rug," Allen said.

By early February 2022, Fisher said multiple complaints had been made to the Colonial Heights Principal and Athletic Director about inappropriate text messages and social media comments from Faries to softball players.

On February 8, Faries resigned as the softball coach.

As CBS 6 previously reported, a few weeks after that several teens reported concerns to City Councilwoman Doctor Laura Poe.

"I had numerous female minors come to me providing me with testimony, including social media conversations that were rather historical going back a couple of years, in addition to some text messages," Poe said.

Poe asked Virginia State Police to investigate, and ultimately, a special prosecutor was brought in. She found there was evidence that Faries committed a misdemeanor or misdemeanors, but a delay in reporting the allegations meant the statute of limitations had already expired so she could not prosecute the case.

Allen said the school should have acted the year before.

"Instantly open an investigation, listen to the voices that needed to be heard," Allen said.

Fisher said the school system told him it has no record of Allen's complaints from the Spring of 2021, but he admitted he had not spoken to the Athletic Director directly to ask him about Allen's allegations.

Fisher acknowledged that Allen came to his office this past March and told him about the complaints she allegedly made in 2021.

She also told him she attached a letter with her resignation email, which she sent from her Colonial Heights school email account, where she claims she laid out her complaints about Faries, but Fisher said the school system told him it has no record of that letter.

Allen does not have a copy, and since she no longer works for Colonial Heights, she doesn't have access to the email account she claims she sent it from.

"I asked for a copy of it and they sent me the blanket email, but there is no attachment," Allen said.

Fisher called the alleged letter a "huge discrepancy."

After CBS 6 made multiple requests to speak to Colonial Heights Superintendent Dr. William Sroufe directly, Melissa Hipolit caught up with him at a recent school board meeting.

When asked about the Faries situation, Sroufe said, "I'm not going to comment on personnel."

When asked if his staff handled the situation properly, Sroufe said, "You're not going to follow me. I'm not going to be on camera. I'm not going to comment on personnel."

In a follow-up email exchange, Hipolit asked Dr. Sroufe if she could talk to the Athletic Director and the then-Principal directly. Sroufe said, "they don't want to be interviewed and have no comment."

Allen said she hopes the school system will ensure all complaints are taken seriously moving forward.

"I felt like I did my job, it was my duty to report those things. It was my duty to be a voice for those players and it went unheard and it was not any fault of my own. The players were ignored, their feelings were ignored," Allen said.

The special prosecutor in the case said she did not believe the complaints made to school officials back in May of 2021 met the definition of an abused or neglected child under state law, so she did not believe school officials violated the state's mandatory reporter law.

However, she did make a report to Social Services herself.

In an email following Hipolit's in-person exchange with Sroufe, he said he believes that shows "our employees acted appropriately both in May of 2021 and February of 2022 when dealing with the coach."

CBS 6 reached out to Jeff Faries to ask about Allen's complaints but never heard back.

In the past, he told CBS 6, "I have never hugged or made contact with a minor or an adult in an improper manner."