Civil case begins against former North Kingstown basketball coach

Aaron Thomas
Former North Kingstown basketball coach, Aaron Thomas. (WLNE)

NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WLNE)— A civil case begins against a former boys basketball coach at North Kingstown High School Friday morning in court.

Aaron Thomas will appear in court after being accused of having inappropriate interactions with former student-athletes and conducting a “fat-test.”

Two subpoenas were issued to the North Kingstown School Department and Thomas earlier this week, according to attorney Timothy Colon.

Colon represents three students that will remain anonymous, as “John Does 1-3.”

The former coach is under investigation by the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office for the manner in which “fat checks” were conducted on student athletes at North Kingstown. Some former students have accused him of conducting the checks while the students were naked and alone with Thomas in his office.

John MacDonald, the attorney for Aaron Thomas, released a statement saying the athletes had a choice about whether to be “fully clothed, partially clothed or unclothed” for the lower body portions of the test. MacDonald’s statement added, “As a practical matter, it was quicker and more efficient to take the measurements without clothing interfering.”

MacDonald’s statement also says the school knew what was happening. The statement says, “It was no secret at the High School that some athletes tested while clothed while others did not. It was the athlete’s choice.”

MacDonald said the testing was voluntary. He released a copy of a consent form that he said parents had to sign before student athletes could participate in testing. (You can read that consent form at the bottom of this story.)

Here is the entire statement released by MacDonald on behalf of Thomas:

1. Aaron Thomas worked with hundreds of student athletes through the years and volunteered thousands of hours so athletes could benefit from free body composition testing.
2. This was a completely voluntary program and required parental consent forms.
3. Athletes were tested every three months. Approximately 45 measurements were meticulously inputted into a three page excel spreadsheet and given to the athlete.
4. Athletes compared their progress with each other and this further spurred improvement.
5. The body composition testing wasn’t just about “fat tests.” Athletic performance improvements were tracked as well (jumping, bench press etc). The adductor muscles of the inner thigh were measured to track lateral movement improvement. This test has garnered the most attention since measurements were taken from the inner thigh area.
6. Of the 45 measurements, approximately 10 took place in lower body. Testing took about 15 minutes per athlete. The lower body measurements took place at the end of testing and athletes were given the option of being fully clothed, partially clothed or unclothed for this portion of the test. As a practical matter, it was quicker and more efficient to take the measurements without clothing interfering.
7. Attached is a sample consent form. This form did not detail how the testing was take place but instead described the purpose of the testing. It was no secret at the High School that some athletes tested while clothed while others did not. It was the athlete’s choice.
8. Aaron Thomas adamantly denies any unlawful conduct. He fully cooperated with the North Kingstown Police investigation.
9. Scores of former students have reached out to Aaron Thomas to show their support.

In early November, the North Kingstown School Committee released a statement detailing a timeline of the case. In that statement, the committee said an anonymous former student first came forward in 2018 to say that Thomas conducted “fat checks” alone with him in his office. The committee said the former student said he was clothed and not touched inappropriately. However, the committee said the student said the “fat checks” were uncomfortable and unusual. The school committee said Thomas was then told to only conduct “fat checks” in the locker room with at least two adults present.

About three years later, in February 2021, the school committee said another former student told school officials that he had been naked during “fat checks” in Thomas’s office. After this allegation was made, the school department placed Thomas on administrative leave and voted not to renew his contract. However, the committee said Thomas resigned before that termination would have taken effect.

The school committee said the school department also turned the information over to the North Kingstown Police Department.

This school year, Thomas had begun teaching middle school at Monsignor Clarke in Wakefield. Upon learning of the allegations at North Kingstown, Monsignor Clarke put Thomas on administrative leave and ultimately fired him. The principal of Monsignor Clarke said Thomas passed all background and reference checks before being hired.

Categories: News, Rhode Island