A former Sayreville football player who was one of seven student-athletes charged with the alleged hazing and sexual assault of four teammates inside the high school locker room has filed a notice of intent to sue the school district and others for violating his civil rights.
Richard Klein, an attorney from East Brunswick, confirmed for MyCentralJersey.com an NJ Advance Media report that he has filed a notice claiming $2 million in damages on behalf of the charged player.
According to the notice, a copy of which NJ Advance Media obtained, the arrest and filing of charges against the player, along with the school district’s suspension of him from school in the wake of canceling the final seven weeks of the 2014 season following the “lack of investigation prior to taking their actions” has resulted in significant and irreversible damage and injuries to the charged player’s “name, reputation, scholarship prospects, college career and future employment and future earnings.”
The notice states Sayreville Public Schools, the Sayreville Police Department, the Borough of Sayreville and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office have violated the charged player’s state and federal civil and constitutional rights.
“My client professed his innocence (at the time of his arrest), he professes his innocence when this was filed and he professes his innocence to this day,” said Klein, noting he filed the tort claim, dated March 9, within a statutory period as law requires.
“It was filed because it had to be by law to preserve my client’s rights. It doesn’t necessarily mean there is going to be a lawsuit.”
Asked to elaborate on his client’s innocence, Klein declined further comment, saying that the matter remains before a Family Court judge.
“I think this is devastating to everyone involved, whether it be the alleged victims or those accused,” Klein said. “Everything is in Juvenile Court. Everybody involved is a juvenile. We’re pretty much hamstrung to go into details. It would be best to leave it to the notice that, again, had to go out.”
Klein said he expects other defendants, all of whom are being tried as juveniles, to file similar tort claims. Attempts to reach the attorneys of several other juvenile defendants were unsuccessful.
Sayreville Schools Superintendent Rick Labbe, reached on his cellphone, declined to comment on the tort claim notice.
The Sayreville football program was thrust into the national spotlight on Oct. 5, when Labbe canceled the remainder of the season amid allegations of locker room misconduct.
Five days later, seven players were charged regarding four separate incidents that allegedly took place inside the team’s locker room over a 10-day period beginning Sept. 19.
Three of the players were charged with aggravated sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, conspiracy to commit aggravated criminal sexual contact, criminal restraint and hazing for engaging in an act of sexual penetration upon one of the juvenile victims.
One of those players and the four remaining players were charged with various counts, including aggravated assault, conspiracy, aggravated criminal sexual contact, hazing, and riot by participating in the attack of the remaining victims.
Staff Writer Greg Tufaro: firstname.lastname@example.org