Investigators reopen case involving complaints against Juan Diego High coach
Oct 11, 2023, 4:34 PM | Updated: Oct 14, 2023, 2:28 pm
SANDY — Aidan Greenwood left work determined to die.
The 16-year-old got in his car and began speeding to what he hoped would be an end to his pain. “That was my intention,” he said of a night last March, “to kill myself when I got in my car. … I took my hands off (the steering wheel) and closed my eyes. I got to over 115 miles an hour. And I was ready. I was done.”
But he didn’t die. He didn’t even crash. Because as he was trying to run from what he said was verbal and emotional abuse at the hands of his high school football coach, he felt something else.
“My dad had passed away from suicide as well,” he told KSL. “I strongly believe he was in the car with me. And that’s what stopped me. I was like, ‘All right, just get home safe.'”
The next day he told his mother.
“I was sick,” she said, “I was sick. I cannot believe that a place that I pay tuition for is actually paying (someone) to bully my child to the point that he wants to die.”
As she drove her son to the hospital, she battled regret. She knew he’d been having issues with Juan Diego High assistant football coach Greg Williams for nearly a year. But when she said the alleged harassment moved from the field to the hallways, Aidan said it became increasingly unbearable.
“I didn’t even have to be on the field for him to target me,” Aidan said. The teen described how Williams followed him into the bathroom more than a dozen times. He said the coach never said anything to him, just stood there until the boy finished using the restroom and then left.
Williams, who is not coaching this season after nearly 23 years on Juan Diego sidelines, told KSL that he never targeted Aidan — or any other player — on the field or off. And those encounters in the bathroom were just coincidental.
“I was the hall monitor at the time, and I was supposed to check the bathrooms twice an hour,” he said, noting there are partitions that provide privacy in the school’s bathrooms. “He was in there a lot.”
Williams worked as the team’s offensive coordinator for 21 years. He was promoted to head coach in 2020, but then returned to being the team’s offensive coordinator after the 2021 season. He said he is taking a break from coaching this year.
KSL obtained an email from 2021 from Juan Diego’s then-athletic director Ted Bianco to a parent who had complained about Williams. He informed the parent that the school was requiring Williams to complete an anger management course, had assigned him to work with former University of Utah head coach Ron McBride as a mentor, and he was removed from teaching duties “to focus on the progress of becoming the best coach he can be. This action was not taken as a reprimand but to allow coach Williams to focus on his coaching duties and responsibilities and to allow him the time to sincerely follow through on these action items.”
Then, near the end of the 2021 football season, Kim Seim, a Juan Diego parent, said an employee at the school encouraged her to send an email to administrators detailing the harassment her son, Bode, suffered while playing. She said the employee expressed concern for her son’s “immediate physical safety.”
“I don’t know what knowledge they had, but it was concerning enough for them to contact us. Otherwise, we would have stayed quiet, which is what so many have done,” she said.
“Bode experienced relentless harassment — deliberate, irrational, hate-filled attacks,” Seim wrote to Bianco and other administrators at Juan Diego High School. “The verbal abuse includes vulgarity, personal attacks on Bode’s character and continued attempts to provoke and humiliate him. What is most concerning is that none of the abuse has anything to do with football, coaching or helping Bo become a better player.”
In one case, she said Williams saw Bode icing an injury and then began to “flop around and slurred his words,” calling the student a slur used against people with intellectual disabilities. She said another time he told Bode to tip his head back and then flipped his Adam’s apple for no reason at all.
“Every practice was kind of a showdown between them,” Seim said. “Bode is a tough, outgoing kid … but it was really hard.”
She said her son was a starter on the team and believes most of the issues happened in front of other players and coaches.
“I wasn’t going to send anything because I knew nothing was going to happen,” she said, noting she knows why parents don’t speak up. “You’re kind of scared because you don’t want to rock the boat; you don’t want to make things worse. … But at the end of the day, I can’t sit back and do nothing. … The other coaches knew about it and did nothing.”
That’s the position Nichole Greenwood said she found herself in after she took her son to the hospital following his suicide attempt.
“I knew there were issues with the coach during football,” Greenwood said. “But I didn’t focus on those because I know football is a tough sport. … It’s just football and that’s how they coach, so I didn’t really think anything about it.”
She said what she called “rough coaching” by Williams became a real concern his sophomore year when it escalated. “Swearing and negativity and condescending behavior from the coach,” she said. “And it wasn’t just toward him.”
But after her son told her he was so demoralized he was considering ending his life, she took action. She met with administrators, she reported the behavior to Draper police, and she filed a complaint with the Department of Child and Family Services.
Greenwood said the problems continued almost as soon as he returned to school, so she and her husband filed a complaint with Draper police on May 3 alleging “voyeurism.” On May 30, a detective read through the complaint made by Nichole Greenwood and determined “there are no criminal charges to follow up with. At this time, it is a school issue,” according to a police report shared with KSL by Williams. KSL requested copies of these reports from Draper police but the details of the report were almost entirely redacted.
She said the school came up with a “safety plan” that she doesn’t believe was workable or enforced. She said while her son and the coach had no contact, she claims Williams said insulting things to Aidan’s friends that were relayed to him and she said she realized the issues weren’t going away.
Greenwood said in July, she filed for a protective order. A temporary order was granted, with a hearing set on a permanent order for Sept. 18, and as part of the order, Williams was not allowed to be at the school when Aidan was there.
Then, on Sept. 12, six days before that hearing, Greenwood received a letter telling her that her son was being expelled as of Sept. 15 because of the civil actions the family was taking. The letter informed her that they were bringing Williams back to work at the school on Sept. 18.
“The situation with the temporary restraining order against Mr. Williams has become unworkable for our school,” Juan Diego High Principal Galey Colosimo wrote in the letter. “After you declined our offer to manage this with a safety plan, we placed Mr. Williams on leave while he remained under contract to work at the school. He has remained on leave for nearly five weeks. We have been unable to reach an acceptable arrangement for the school, your son, and Mr. Williams.”
He said neither Draper police nor DCFS found “evidence to substantiate the claims, and both agencies have closed their investigations with no further action or charges being contemplated.”
In the hearing on Sept. 18, Williams denied targeting Aidan, but Draper police said they never interviewed Aidan, his mother or any of his teammates, according to Greenwood and two other people who attended the child protective order hearing. The judge took the case under advisement, and a week later issued an order dismissing the protective order that said: “The court cannot find by a preponderance of the evidence that child is being abused or is in imminent danger of being abused.”
While awaiting the order, Greenwood transferred both of her sons to Judge Memorial Catholic High School, a move that Colosimo was involved in approving.
Colosimo did not return phone calls seeking comment, and his secretary said, “He couldn’t comment on issues involving a minor.”
After her sons began school at Judge, she contacted Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill. After meeting with the family, he opened an investigation, and Draper police reopened their investigation.
“One of the things that we saw was, there were certainly follow-ups that needed to be done,” Gill said Monday. “We didn’t think the investigation was complete. There are entities that needed to be spoken to, and our attorneys have requested that follow-up.”
Williams said it’s his understanding that all investigations into allegations against him are concluded and he’s been cleared of any criminal wrongdoing. He shared police reports from Draper police, DCFS and the court order as evidence that the allegations were unfounded. When KSL reached out to Mark Longe, superintendent of schools for the Catholic Diocese, he responded in an email saying “matters concerning employees and students are confidential.”
Longe added, “Also, we have not been contacted by the district attorney’s office and are unaware of any reason why it would be opening an investigation.”
Nichole Greenwood met with the Draper police chief Tuesday and Aidan is scheduled to be interviewed at the Children’s Justice Center on Thursday as part of the reopened investigation Gill requested.
But KSL documented complaints about Williams’ behavior for the past three years.
“In my opinion, Greg Williams has had a lot of problems there for a long time that have never been addressed,” said Bianco, who was the school’s athletic director from 2021 until this past summer. “It just seemed like the way he treated kids was his main problem.”
Bianco said some of Greenwood’s concerns didn’t have anything to do with athletics, so he referred those to other administrators.
Bianco said another coach described Williams this way: “Love the person, hate the coach. He’s a great guy who didn’t know how to communicate with kids very well.”
After a group of parents met with Colosimo demanding he take action against Williams for his behavior, Colosimo called a meeting with all of the players. One of them recorded the meeting and KSL obtained a copy.
In that meeting, Colosimo told the players that Williams asked to step down from the head coaching job.
“He came to me and he said, “I can’t do this job. And I don’t want to hurt the team and I don’t want to hurt the school,” Colosimo told the players. “Now I want you to think about the courage that took. … So I’ve heard all kinds of (expletive) about Coach Williams over the last year. But that’s what a man does. … We should be glad that we have a guy like Coach Williams. Rough around the edges, yeah, and he says hard things to you, and he’s … not necessarily the most eloquent of people, but when the going gets tough and you’re talking about courage and commitment and dedication, he showed up for you.
“And he showed for this program and that means a hell of a lot more than some mean thing he said to you one day.”
Suicide prevention resources
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or exhibiting warning signs, call, text, or chat the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 which is answered 24/7/365 by crisis counselors at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute. All calls to legacy crisis hotlines, including the old National Suicide Prevention hotline, 1-800-273-8255, will also connect to a crisis care worker at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute as well.
- SafeUT: Parents, students, and educators can connect with a licensed crisis counselor through chat by downloading the SafeUT app or by calling 833-3SAFEUT (833-372-3388)
- SafeUT Frontline: First responders, including firefighters, law enforcement, EMS, and healthcare professionals can chat with a licensed crisis counselor at no cost 24/7/365 by downloading the SafeUT Frontline app.
- SafeUTNG: Members of the National Guard can chat with a licensed crisis counselor at no cost 24/7/365 by downloading the SafeUTNG app.
- Utah Warm Line: For non-crisis situations, when you need a listening ear as you heal and recover from a personal struggle, call 1-833 SPEAKUT 8:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m., 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
- The Huntsman Mental Health Institute offers a wide variety of programs and services including suicide prevention and crisis services, hospital treatment, therapy & medication management, substance Use & addiction recovery, child & teen programs, and maternal mental health services including birth trauma, pregnancy loss, infertility, and perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
- LiveOnUtah.org is a statewide effort to prevent suicide by promoting education, providing resources, and changing Utah’s culture around suicide and mental health. They offer resources for faith based groups, LGBTQ+, youth, employers, firearm suicide prevention, and crisis and treatment options.
Counties in Utah provide services for mental health and substance use disorders. Centers are run by the thirteen Local Mental Health and Substance Use Authorities all across the state and offer therapy, substance use disorder treatment, support groups, mobile services, youth treatment, and more.
These resources and more information can be found here: https://www.uacnet.org/behavioralhealth.