Texas assistant football coach Jeff Banks, girlfriend sued after monkey allegedly bites child
Written by ABC News on December 4, 2021
A couple has sued Texas assistant coach Jeff Banks and his girlfriend, Danielle Thomas, saying Thomas’ monkey bit their child in the backyard of Banks’ house on Halloween night.
The lawsuit was filed in Travis County District Court in Austin on Thursday on behalf of Amy and Casey Clinkenbeard and their child. It seeks damages for gross negligence and defamation.
According to the lawsuit, the child, identified as C.C., was trick-or-treating with two friends on Halloween and was invited to attend a haunted house. The lawsuit says that, after completing the haunted house, the child and his friends were taken to a monkey that Thomas kept in the backyard. According to the complaint, the child was told the monkey was trained to give high fives.
“Instead of giving a high five, Danielle Thomas’s monkey aggressively bit down on C.C.’s hand and refused to let go,” says the lawsuit, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN on Saturday. “C.C. was forced to manually pry the monkey’s jaw open. There was so much blood that C.C. was unable to see the full extent of the injury.”
The child’s hand was treated by a physician who lived nearby. The lawsuit says the doctor and another neighbor went to Thomas to discuss the incident. The doctor told Thomas that a report would have to be filed with the health department, “and that additional information on the monkey’s vaccination status would be appreciated so that an appropriate course of treatment for C.C. could be decided.”
According to the lawsuit, “Instead of showing any semblance of care for an injured child, Danielle Thomas was instead worried about the risk of her monkey being taken away. … Danielle Thomas stated to the physician that the monkey had bitten her before and that she was fine, implying that the monkey therefore did not have rabies.”
The lawsuit says Thomas has not provided the monkey’s vaccination records to the child’s family.
Thomas is also identified as “Pole Assassin” in the lawsuit, her stage name as a dancer. She once appeared on “The Jerry Springer Show” with the monkey.
The lawsuit alleges that Thomas, in an “effort to discredit C.C. and his family and protect the monkey,” made false statements on social media that the child didn’t have permission to be on the property and instructed her guests to not enter the area where the monkey stayed.
In a series of tweets that have since been deleted, Thomas wrote shortly after the incident: “I had a haunted house on one side gated off/ he had no permission to go pass the gate i had no idea he went in my back yard, neither did i know anything about a bite ! Until a doctor of neighborhood told me the treat a small bite. No parent have contacted me about it !”
“A 11 /12 year old child should know better then to enter someone yard without permission and old enough to also follow the rules,” she added. “The rules were when u get to the gate turn around and come back out for candy every other parent and child did so !”
Thomas has since deleted her Twitter account.
Banks just completed his first season as Texas’ assistant head coach, tight ends coach and special teams coordinator.