Published: July 08, 2009 08:44 pm print this story
HAZING CASE: Civil suit looms for Wilson School District
By Bill Wolcott
Lawyers for the alleged victims in the Wilson baseball team case are preparing to take their civil lawsuits to court against the school district.
A jury trial made up from a Niagara County pool is expected. Attorney Terry Connors represents parents of two junior varsity players. Chris Oâ€™Brien and Steve Boyd represent the parents of one. The lawyers would not divulge what monetary damages the families are seeking, and no trial date for the lawsuit has been set.
â€œIf there were a way for the jury to turn back the clock, the parents would take that in a heartbeat,â€ Oâ€™Brien said Wednesday. â€œNo one wants to be involved in a lawsuit.â€
At the coachesâ€™ news conference Wednesday, Kary Sidote, mother of player defendant Christopher Sidote Jr., called the civil suit â€œbaloneyâ€ and said the lawsuit is about money.
â€œTheyâ€™ve even put their kids on the line for cash,â€ she said. â€œYou want to know what the main motivation is? They want money.â€
Chris Sidote Sr. offered: â€œThe student body has moved past it. Itâ€™s the parents.â€
However, Oâ€™Brien said his firm has made overtures to the school district and tried to get the matter resolved short of a lawsuit. â€œWhatever the jury decides, we donâ€™t want a penny more,â€ the lawyer said.
Oâ€™Brien said the families of the victims have incurred expenses, including counseling, since charges were brought against three varsity players and two coaches. Connors said the civil suit was not affected by charges being dismissed against coaches William Atlas and Thomas Baia by Town Justice George Berger.
Oâ€™Brien said the facts show that boys were being hazed on the back of the bus, that one of the charged boys had been hazed before, and that there were no coaches on the back of the bus. He asserts there was negligence, and that the civil case is against the school district, not the players or the coaches.
â€œWe stand by our kids,â€ Connors said. â€œWe stand by their statements and weâ€™re moving forward.