Mother sues Groton school over football team’s hazing incident

GROTON, N.Y. — The Groton Central School District has been sued over a hazing incident involving the school’s football team, according to Tompkins County Court records.

The mother of a Groton High School student says that the school district was negligent in failing to prevent the September 2014 hazing, in which her son was forcibly pinned to the ground by one student while another student rubbed his private parts on the victim.

Two teenagers later pleaded guilty to criminal misdemeanor charges of harassment in connection with the incident.

The separate, civil lawsuit — which has not been previously reported on — was filed in April. Michael Perehinec Jr., of the Ithaca law firm Holmberg Galbraith LLP, filed the suit for the plaintiff.

“During the time the players were in the locker room prior to practice, no coach, supervisor or other adult was present in the locker room while the football players prepared for practice,” the lawsuit states.

Claiming that the victim suffered “serious emotional and psychological injuries,” the lawsuit directs blame at the school. (The lawsuit also contains a graphic recounting of the incident.)

The school violated its own policy, according to the lawsuit, which pulls out the following section from the school’s code:


An excerpt from the lawsuit

The lawsuit does not give a requested payout. It does, however, say the victim should receive damages as “determined according to law.”

On May 15, the Groton Central School District responded to the lawsuit with a brief, two-page document.

The school district denies nearly everything alleged in the mother’s lawsuit. It also claims unspecified “culpable conduct” committed by the plaintiffs.

“Defendant demands judgment dismissing the complaint,” wrote Wendy K. DeWind, the school’s lawyer, “together with costs, disbursements and such other further relief as the Court deems equitable and proper.”

Groton’s superintendent was replaced following the scandal by Tioga High School Principal Margo Martin, according to the Ithaca Times.

See related: 3 Groton students committed ‘serious’ violation in hazing/bullying incident

In October, shortly after the incident, then-Superintendent Jim Abrams was quoted as expressing remorse over the incident and said that the incident led the district to revise the portion of its code of conduct related to hazing.

“A very serious action took place — an assault took place — on school grounds. There’s certainly a feeling of responsibility for that,” Abrams told The Ithaca Journal.