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Niagara Gazette: Wilson case goes to civil trial; Parent Kary Sidote lashes out at parent of young player

Published: July 08, 2009 08:44 pm print this story

HAZING CASE: Civil suit looms for Wilson School District
By Bill Wolcott
Niagara Gazette

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 O’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.

“If there were a way for the jury to turn back the clock, the parents would take that in a heartbeat,” O’Brien said Wednesday. “No one wants to be involved in a lawsuit.”

At the coaches’ news conference Wednesday, Kary Sidote, mother of player defendant Christopher Sidote Jr., called the civil suit “baloney” and said the lawsuit is about money.

“They’ve even put their kids on the line for cash,” she said. “You want to know what the main motivation is? They want money.”

Chris Sidote Sr. offered: “The student body has moved past it. It’s the parents.”

However, O’Brien said his firm has made overtures to the school district and tried to get the matter resolved short of a lawsuit. “Whatever the jury decides, we don’t want a penny more,” the lawyer said.

O’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.

O’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.

“We stand by our kids,” Connors said. “We stand by their statements and we’re moving forward.

“We’re going to be filing a lawsuit in next two weeks.”

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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