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January argument leads to June arrest for St. Francis basketball coach

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Multiple heated verbal exchanges that took place earlier this year between St. Francis de Sales varsity boys basketball coach Travis Lewis and Bowsher High School athletic director Terry Reeves ultimately indirectly led to the arrest of Lewis during a traffic stop this week.

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St. Francis de Sales head coach Travis Lewis gives instructions during a game last season.

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Lewis, 34, of Toledo, was pulled over by Toledo Police on Tuesday for a traffic violation and, when his driver’s license was checked, it was discovered that an open warrant had been issued for Lewis, who was arrested.

The open warrant stemmed from a report made by Reeves, dated March 9, that claimed Lewis was in violation of the state’s safe schools ordinance stemming from what took place during games held Jan. 9 at Bowsher.

The verbal exchanges reportedly began during the junior varsity boys basketball game at Bowsher and concluded following the varsity game.

An affidavit filed in Toledo Municipal Court asserts that Lewis “had to be escorted out of the building by officers after the game had concluded.”

The affidavit also included Reeves’ statement that the “negative, disorderly verbal activity of Mr. Lewis made for a hostile environment,” which Reeves reported to  City League director of athletics Ed Kaser and St. Francis administrators.

On Thursday, St. Francis de Sales and President the Rev. Geoffrey Rose issued a statement to address the matter, which became known after details of Lewis’ arrest were circulated on social media.

The school statement read: “On January 9th, 2018, St. Francis de Sales head basketball coach Travis Lewis and the athletic director from Bowsher High School had a verbal exchange prior to the varsity basketball game. The following day, Fr. Geoffrey Rose, President of St. Francis de Sales was contacted about the incident. He listened to the concerns and assured all parties that the matter would be addressed.

“[Toledo Public Schools] administrators are confident that the situation was appropriately handled by the administration at St. Francis in January. The administration at St. Francis was not aware of any ongoing matters related to the Jan. 9 verbal exchange and unless new information is brought forth, we consider the matter resolved and support Coach Lewis.”

Toledo Public Schools spokesman Patty Mazur confirmed district administrators were pleased with how the incident was handled in January. 

“The following day [Jan. 10], the administration from both TPS and St. Francis were made aware of the situation. Officials from TPS had follow-up conversations with the leadership at St. Francis and remain confident that the matter was appropriately handled,” she said.

James Gault, executive transformational leader of curriculum and instruction at TPS, said the district stands behind that statement and said officials were unaware of the safe schools report filed against Lewis in March.

Father Rose clarified the school’s position when contacted by The Blade on Thursday.

“We wanted to be as transparent as possible to say, look, we support our coach,” Father Rose said. “We are aware of the event. We were aware of it when it happened. We addressed it with TPS, and both systems feel like it was resolved.

“It’s a bit of a surprise to us that it’s resurfaced in a very embarrassing and unfortunate way. People’s minds and mouths are running wild. That’s why we made sure our own community and the media had a clear statement.”

The safe schools charge is a first-degree misdemeanor. Lewis appeared in court Wednesday and pleaded not guilty. A trial is scheduled for June 25.

His attorney, Sheldon Wittenberg, could not be reached for comment.

Lewis is also a physical education teacher at St. Francis. 

Contact Steve Junga at sjunga@theblade.com419-724-6461, or on Twitter @JungaBlade.

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