Alleged attack prompts arrest of St. Helens football coach
A St. Helens Youth Football coach was arrested last month and reportedly received a lifetime ban from the league after he allegedly attacked a man after a youth football game and injured another who tried to break up the fight.
Nehemiah Tima Peau, 37, of St. Helens was arrested Saturday, Sept. 22, and charged with strangulation, menacing and assault following the incident. Peau had worked as a youth coach for three years and worked with students in third and fourth grades. He often went by the nickname "Coach Tima."
According to information from SHPD, earlier in the day children were seen walking around the track near the St. Helens High School football field during an ongoing youth football game, a practice not allowed during games, SHPD Sgt. Jose Castilleja explained.
James McCarty, who is president of the St. Helens Youth Football League board of directors and was on the sidelines of the field, yelled out to ask for the children to be removed from the track, Castilleja said. Peau's wife, who was not named in the police report, Castilleja noted, then explained that they were her kids, which sparked a confrontation between her and McCarty.
Later that day, Peau allegedly returned to the field to confront McCarty about the incident. That's when the alleged assault occurred. St. Helens police officers were called to the St. Helens High School football field at 1:07 p.m.
McCarty, who spoke to the Spotlight this week, said Peau approached him from behind at the end of a football game while young students from both teams were still on the field shaking hands. Peau reportedly grabbed McCarty around the throat
and knocked him to the ground while yelling
"that he was going to kill" McCarty, McCarty explained.
When another youth football board member intervened, Peau allegedly grabbed that person by the throat as well and knocked him to the ground. McCarty said he suffered a bruised rib and whiplash and the other board member, who has also not been identified, suffered a broken finger.
Castilleja said that when officers arrived, Peau had already left the football field, prompting a search. Peau was located at his home and arrested shortly after the incident and booked into Columbia County Jail.
Since the charges filed against Peau are misdemeanors, the case is being handled by St. Helens Municipal Court. McCarty said he plans to file additional charges against Peau in Columbia County Circuit Court.
"I don't know how you can walk on a field like that with people and kids around, and it not be a felony," McCarty said.
Castilleja described the incident as an unfortunate circumstance between two coaches and staff that are well-liked in the community.
"Emotions were heated and rational thinking was taken away. It's a reminder: Don't take it into your own hands," Castilleja added. He also explained that SHPD officers are available to help mediate tense situations to avoid similar outcomes, an option so that "cooler heads will prevail."
McCarty said Peau has been banned for life from coaching with the league.
"It was a very unfortunate event and St. Helens Youth Football League has requested he be banned for life," McCarty said.
In his 16 years working with the league, McCarty said only one other coach has been banned for
Peau did not respond to a request for comment by press time Thursday, Oct. 4. The web version of this story will be updated as his comments are available.