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April 11, 2013

 

School sued over lacrosse incident

Suit claims CHS assistant coach, 5 players bullied student in locker room last year

By AMY E. BARONE
Staff Reporter
abarone@cortlandstandardnews.net

The parent of a Cortland student bullied in a locker room incident last year that led to the suspension of four lacrosse players and a police investigation of sexual harassment has filed a lawsuit against the school district, an assistant coach and five of the student’s teammates.
The suit claims assistant coach John May failed to protect a 10th-grader from the harassment of five students after a varsity lacrosse game on March 26, 2012.
The school district is responsible for his conduct, the suit alleges, and it failed to provided a safe and secure environment for the student.
The lawsuit was filed March 25 in State Supreme Court in Cortland County by Arthur Mahar, the parent of the 10th-grade student, Eamonn Mahar.
Mahar was on the varsity lacrosse team and was threatened by an older student on the team during a return bus trip from Cehnango Forks, according to the lawsuit.
Mahar told coach May of the threat and asked him to accompany him through the varsity locker room at Cortland High School.
The suit claims Mahar was grabbed and wrestled to the floor by the older teammates, Clay Fickenscher, and two other players, Tyler West and Zachary Daniels.
Two other students, Andrew Price and Nathaniel Wright, guarded a locker room door while the incident occurred, the suit claims.
Coach May witnessed the event and failed to do anything about it, the suit alleges.
Fickenscher then pinned Mahar to the floor and placed his exposed genitals on Mahar’s head, the lawsuit alleges.
The five students — Price, Fickenscher, Daniels, West and Wright — put Mahar in harmful and offensive contact without his consent, according to the suit.
Coach May should have protected Mahar, the suit claims.
It says Mahar suffered damages and injuries as a result of the incident, though it did not specify what they were.
The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages from the defendants.
The attorney representing Arthur Mahar, John Alden Stevens of the Williamson, Clune & Stevens law firm in Ithaca, said Wednesday he had no comment.
Superintendent of Schools Michael Hoose also had no comment when reached this morning by phone. It was not immediately clear if May and the five students had attorneys.
After the incident last year, District Attorney Mark Suben declined to bring any criminal charges after an investigation by the Cortland Police Department.
May stepped down as assistant coach after the incident.
Dan Caughey, a former Homer High School and Syracuse University player, replaced him as assistant coach.
The school district suspended Fickenscher, Daniels, West and Wright from the team for the season last year after learning of the locker room incident.

 

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