Wrestler's mom files claim against Columbus school district

2011-08-22T08:00:00Z 2011-08-24T22:40:06Z Wrestler's mom files claim against Columbus school districtBy JIM OSBORN / Columbus Telegram JournalStar.com
August 22, 2011 8:00 am  • 

COLUMBUS -- The mother of a high school wrestler filed a claim in April seeking $650,000 from Columbus Public Schools.

The claim accuses the school's former head coach of lax supervision in allowing her now-16-year-old son to be subjected to physical attacks and other abuse while attending a wrestling camp in 2009.

The claim says the wrestler's head was dunked into a toilet filled with feces, among other things.

More than two years ago, rumors surfaced of hazing incidents while local wrestlers were attending the summer Camp of Champions in Denver.

Norfolk attorney Mark Fitzgerald, who is representing the mother, said the word "hazing" does not convey the brutality of the abuse and gives the impression that only student-athletes -- but no adults -- were involved.

Superintendent Troy Loeffelholz said the claim has been referred to the district's insurance carrier. By state law, the school board has six months to grant or deny the claim.

"This is dragging old skeletons out," Loeffelholz said, adding "there isn't much to report unless this does get filed as a lawsuit."

Columbus Public Schools released the claim as the result of a Freedom of Information Act request.

The mother, in explaining why she waited two years to file the claim, said: "I wake up every day without my kids in my home, and I am reminded of how the former CPS administration mishandled this situation."

Her son has since moved to another community to live with his father.

The claim alleges that the wrestler suffered abuse at the camp and became a target for more physical and emotional pain and anxiety after details of the camp's events were reported to and investigated by school authorities.

The public tumult surrounding the wrestling trip two years ago resulted in the resignation of head wrestling coach Tracy Dodson after just one season and the suspension of at least four Columbus wrestlers for more than a month.

The school board later offered Dodson reinstatement as an assistant coach, but he declined the offer. In the three months the coaching controversy played out in 2009, board members and Dodson refused to discuss any details.

The mother's claim says her son, who was an incoming freshman in 2009, was asked by Dodson to attend the camp based on his performance as an eighth-grade wrestler.

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