Bergen Catholic High School won a key victory on Friday when a judge threw out multiple counts of a lawsuit in which a former wrestler charged he was sexually abused by his coach.
But Superior Court Judge Robert C. Wilson refused to dismiss two elements of Anthony Asatrian’s case — that he suffered emotional distress as a result of what he claims to be unwanted sexual advances and texts by his coach, David Bell, and that Bergen Catholic reportedly undermined his efforts to transfer to two other Catholic high schools.
The 12-count lawsuit, filed in April by Asatrian, a two-time district champion with Bergen Catholic’s nationally ranked wrestling program, alleges that he was sexually abused, sexually assaulted and sexually harassed during his nearly three years at the school.
Wilson threw out an explosive allegation against the school, Bell and an assistant coach, Dominick “Donnie” Spataro — that Asatrian had been sexually abused. The judge agreed with defense lawyers that Asatrian was unable to prove he had been sexually “touched.”
The judge also dismissed six more counts, most of them involving financial claims and a charge that the school, its administrators and Bell conspired to endanger Asatrian and other students.
Further narrowing the scope of the case considerably, Wilson also dismissed all claims by Asatrian that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark failed to properly oversee Bergen Catholic and its elite wrestling program. The judge further blocked efforts by Asatrian’s attorneys to turn the controversial lawsuit into a class action case by shutting down their attempt to include up to “100 unnamed victims.”