An attorney whose clients reached an undisclosed settlement for “a lot of money” in a sexual assault scandal that made national headlines and defamed another scholastic football program a little more than a decade ago, said he believes a possible $1.5 million lawsuit against Sayreville Public Schools will not go to court.
Sayreville Public Schools and the Borough of Sayreville could be facing a $1.5 million negligence lawsuit related to the hazing and sexual assaults that allegedly occurred last year inside the high school football team’s locker room, according to a report.
NJ Advance Media, which obtained a copy of a notice of intent letter, dated Dec. 12, reported that an alleged victim plans to sue the borough and the school district, charging that the seven football players who perpetrated the alleged assaults against four teammates were not properly supervised.
The alleged victim suffered bodily and severe emotional injuries, “which may haunt the victim for the rest of his life,” according to the notice.
Personal injury attorney Randall Richards, a shareholder with Woodbridge-based Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer who serves as chairman of the firm’s personal injury team, is representing the alleged victim.
Multiple messages MyCentralJersey.com left for Richards at his Woodbridge office were not returned.
“My educated guess is this case is going to get resolved outside of court because I don’t think either side in litigation like this wants to have a jury decide what happened and how much it’s worth,” said attorney Michael F. Rubin, whose New York City-based law firm Kelly & Rubin represented two Mepham High School (Bellmore, New York) players who were allegedly sodomized by teammates during a 2003 preseason training camp.
“It’s a tough call for any lawyer and the parent of a child in a situation like this to allow that child to testify in open court about something as personal and damaging as a sexual assault case.”
Attempts to contact Sayreville Schools Superintendent Rick Labbe and Sayreville Board of Education President Michael Macagnone via cellphone were unsuccessful.
Asked for information regarding the school district’s insurance policy as it pertains to litigation, Jonathan Busch, an attorney for Sayreville Public Schools, referred MyCentralJersey.com to the district’s crisis management team of Abernathy MacGregor, which handles media inquiries on behalf of Sayreville Public Schools, a service rendered through the district’s insurance provider. A spokesman for the crisis management team could not be immediately reached.
Jeanette Rundquist, communications officer for the New Jersey School Boards Association, speaking in general, said almost all boards have insurance that would cover errors and omissions by employees.
“However, like all insurance policies, certain types of conduct may be excluded from the policy,” she said. “It really depends on the policy purchased by the district.”
In October, seven Sayreville football players, ages 15 to 17, were arrested and charged in connection with the hazing and aggravated sexual assault of four teammates inside the team’s locker room. All seven Sayreville players have been suspended from school and will be tried as juveniles in family court.
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 victims, according to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.
One of those players and the remaining four teammates 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.
Rubin previously told MyCentralJersey.com that his clients were “paid a lot of money” in an undisclosed settlement with the Bellmore-Merrick school district and that he believed Sayreville coaches clearly had a responsibility to police the locker room, which is detached from the coaches’ office.
“If they think it’s OK as a policy to leave that locker room unsupervised, that’s crazy,” Rubin said. “You’ve got to station a coach or somebody in that locker room. (Players) can’t be left on their own like that. Any attempt to absolve the coaches or supervisors of liability is ridiculous.”