Ki-Be girls wrestling coach seeks restraining order against school board president

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldFebruary 18, 2014 

Kiona-Benton City High School girls wrestling coach Holly Graham is seeking a restraining order against Tim Cook, the school board president.

The request follows an incident at a recent wrestling meet in Richland. Cook was allegedly abusive after he heard Graham talking to district officials about his violating event security by being on the wrestling floor, court documents said. He has a daughter who wrestles for Ki-Be.

"He kept trying to get closer to me and kept raising his voice," Graham said in a statement requesting the restraining order. "I was concerned for my safety at this point. (Athletic Director Vance Wing) stepped in front of me to stop Mr. Cook from advancing toward me. (Interim Superintendent Wade Haun) also stepped in front of me to help shield me from Mr. Cook's advances and verbal abuse."

The order would prevent Cook from approaching Graham or contacting her, court documents said. A Benton County District Court judge will hear Graham's request Tuesday. The high school wrestling season ends this weekend.

Cook told the Herald he is consulting with his attorney and could not talk about the case. Calls to Wing and Haun were not returned Tuesday. Graham could not be reached.

The Ki-Be wrestlers were competing in the sub-regional meet for the South Central Athletic Conference at Richland High School on Feb. 8.

Coaches and wrestlers were permitted on the gym floor during the competition, but parents and other spectators were told to stay in the stands, court documents said.

Cook went down to the gym floor to watch his daughter wrestle twice, prompting security to tell Graham he needed to remain in the stands, court documents said.

Graham told Wing about the issue and also that another parent who had been visiting the floor needed to remain with the other parents.

Cook came down again for his daughter's third match, this time wearing a coach's band on his wrist, court documents said. Graham told security she did not give the band to him and she again went to Wing and Haun about her concerns.

"I explained to Mr. Wing we were trying to keep all the family members in the stands so everyone had the same opportunities to watch their kids wrestle," Graham said in her statement.

Cook, a former Ki-Be wrestling coach, approached the group during that conversation, saying that if they were going to talk about him he should be there, court documents said. Cook was shaking and pointing his finger at Graham and yelling at her, prompting Wing and Haun to intercede.

"Mr. Wing was trying his best to get Mr. Cook to calm down but with no success," Graham's statement said. "Mr. Wing turned to me and said, 'Go coach your girls.' "

Graham was shaken by the incident, which was witnessed by her daughter and a few other girls, she said.

She claims in her restraining order request that Cook yelled at her at another wrestling meet in January. She said in her statement she's afraid to go on school grounds and is concerned about how his behavior affects her team.

"Mr. Cook has progressively become more confrontational towards me and I believe it is to the point now that he may physically harm me if given the opportunity," Graham said in her statement.

w Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; tbeaver@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @_tybeaver; Google+: +TyBeaverTCHerald

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