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Charges Dropped against Wilson Coaches

Moderator: The Wilson coaches had charges dropped.

Article below to clear their names.

Charges dismissed against Wilson baseball coaches
By Thomas J. Prohaska
News Niagara Bureau
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WILSON — Charges were dismissed today against the two suspended Wilson High School baseball coaches who had been charged with child endangerment in the April 17, 2008, alleged hazing incident.

A jury was to have been selected for the trial of coaches William M. Atlas and Thomas J. Baia this morning, but instead Assistant District Attorney Robert A. Zucco moved for a dismissal without offering explanation.

Defense attorneys did not object and Town Justice George R. Berger granted the motion to the loud applause of about 20 supporters of the coaches.

Zucco said, “Given that the other charge is still under consideration by the judge, we’re not going to comment at all.”

He was referring to charges of forcible touching and hazing against two 17-year-old Wilson baseball players, which was the subject of a closed-door trial that ended Wednesday. Berger is still considering his verdict in that non-jury trial.

Herbert L. Greenman, attorney for Atlas, offered no explanation of the prosecution decision, which apparently was arrived at during a meeting Thursday between District Attorney Michael J. Violante and defense attorneys Greenman and Robert Viola.

Greenman and Viola complimented Violante for what they called a courageous decision.

Asked if the coaches will get their jobs back, Wilson School Superintendent Michael Wendt said, “The Board of Education has made a decision in terms of suspension based on information from 15 months ago. I’m sure the board will make a decision based on the new information that was made public today. We will work within the guidelines and procedures to regularly and fully correct the present situation.”

The coaches have been on paid suspension since they were arrested.

The coaches themselves said they did not want to make public comment for a few days.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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