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Lawyer says felony charge and searches were unfair to Wilson client

Published: May 14, 2008 

PORTER: Lawyer says Wilson teen illegally searched and arrested

By Dan Miner

Greater Niagara Newspapers
PORTER — The lawyer for 16-year old Colton J. Sherman said Tuesday his client was illegally searched and arrested on May 8 because of Sherman’s involvement in another high-profile case.

“There are problems with both cases,” said Kevin P. Shelby, from Williamsville-based law firm Shelby, Bakshi and White. “It’s very early in both cases.”

Sherman is one of three Wilson High School baseball players charged in an alleged assault on a school bus.

Sherman and two other teenagers were arrested April 25 for third-degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child in connection with that assault, which has sparked widespread publicity and community outcry. He was arrested again about two weeks later after police said they found him out at 1:30 a.m. with hydrocodone pills and bags of a white powdery substance in his pocket.

In that incident, Niagara County Sheriff’s deputies stopped Sherman and two other 16-year old boys as they walked through the Ki-Po Chevrolet parking lot on Ransomville Road, according to the report. Deputies patted the boys down for weapons when they found the pills on Sherman, according to reports. He was the only one charged in the incident.

“He was walking with his friends and for no reason was stopped and patted down,” said Shelby, speaking in front of Porter Town Hall. Second earlier, Shelby had directed Sherman and his parents out a side door, where they quickly entered their car and drove away, to avoid a television camera.

Later, Shelby added, “He was targeted because of his name and because of the other matter going on right now.”

He also said the felony sexual abuse count for the school bus incident was a “young man being overcharged for reasons I don’t yet know.”

“It may have ruined three boys’ lives,” Shelby said.

During Tuesday’s court appearance, Sherman appeared with his parents and Shelby in front of Judge David Truesdale. He was wearing a red dress shirt and tie, but let his parents and lawyers speak with him during the meeting.

Because Sherman broke his parents’ curfew when he was out at 1:30 a.m. in the morning, Truesdale set a curfew for him. He’s due for a June 3 pretrial conference with Niagara County Assistant District Attorney Heather DeCastro.

Sherman, along with Christopher A. Sidote, 16, and Geoffrey A. Seefeldt, 18, is due May 22 in Wilson Town Court to face charges for the hazing incident.

The trio are accused of assaulting at least two junior varsity players during an April 17 bus trip back to Wilson from Niagara Falls. They were arrested after an investigation by state police.

Two coaches who were on the bus, William Atlas, the junior varsity baseball coach, and Thomas J. Baia, the varsity baseball coach, have been charged with endangering the welfare of a child.

Baia and Atlas appeared in Wilson Town Court on Tuesday, pleading not guilty on those charges.

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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