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Lawsuit filed by former SOHS wrestler alleges abuse by teammates

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By John Foster

The parents of a former South Oldham High School wrestler filed a lawsuit Friday claiming older members of the SOHS wrestling team allegedly assaulted their son earlier this year and school officials did nothing to prevent it.The lawsuit, filed by Doug and Debbie Badon on behalf of their son, alleges senior wrestlers Cody Lasseigne, 18, and Cameron Hartman, 17, repeatedly harassed and assaulted then-freshman wrestler Hunter Badon, 14, before and after practice, physically injuring him and allegedly choking him once until he blacked out. The Badons also claim coaches and school administrators failed to protect their son.Beach Craigmyle, an attorney representing Lasseigne, said the lawsuit is riddled with inaccuracies. He said there is no pattern of assault, as alleged by the Badon family. He said there was one case of horseplay, but nothing malicious.Hartman’s father, Steven, said the Badons’ claims are exaggerated tremendously. He said he did not want to comment further.Oldham County Schools attorney Anne Coorssen said school officials received the summons Monday and are still reviewing it. Oldham County Schools spokesperson Rebecca DeSensi issued a statement Tuesday citing the board’s long-standing policy prohibiting intimidation or harassment.School officials take complaints seriously and respond with appropriate and timely disciplinary measures.Vanessa Cantley, a personal injury lawyer in Louisville, represents the Badon family. She said the family waited until Hunter Badon received his varsity letter at the wrestling banquet, then moved to Tennessee.The suit claims the two seniors allegedly lured Badon into the locker room during school Jan. 17 saying there was a team meeting. The suit says Hartman and Lasseigne allegedly choked Badon until he blacked out as they kicked him in the groin. When he came to, they allegedly choked him again, it said.According to the suit, assistant coach Trevor Ford allegedly found Badon crying and curled on the floor. Ford said Tuesday he has been advised not to comment.The suit also describes an incident Jan. 10 allegedly involving Lasseigne and Hartman that left Badon with two black eyes, a swollen nose and broken skin.The suit also describes incidences of the two seniors forcing underclassmen wrestlers to fight each other, and that on multiple occasions Lasseigne and Hartman allegedly held Badon while kicking and hitting him, including once when they allegedly hit him over the head with a laundry detergent bottle.Craigmyle describes Lasseigne as a “good kid” whom he has known since he was a toddler.Craigmyle said Lasseigne recalls only one incident involving Badon, which he describes as horseplay. He claims the other incidences, if they occurred, involved other members of the team.Craigmyle said the two seniors wrestled with Badon Jan. 17 in the SOHS locker room. Lasseigne claims when Badon expressed pain, he stopped and asked if he was OK, Craigmyle said.“This was wrestling, it wasn’t harassing or hazing. This is what happens on wrestling teams,” he said.Head coach Steve Fiser suspended Lasseigne and Hartman from the team after the incident, Craigmyle said.Cantley said both students also received a three-day suspension from school, although school officials, including Fiser, could not comment on student disciplinary actions due to privacy laws.Two days after the incident in the locker room, Badon finished seventh in his weight class at the Dragon Invitational.Lasseigne missed two meets before returning to the team and later finished fourth in the state at 171 pounds. Badon was a regional runner-up at 152 pounds.Hartman did not return to the team.Craigmyle said he plans to file a counterclaim of defamation of character and slander if the suit is not dropped.“There was absolutely no pattern of assault,” Craigmyle said.All SOHS wrestling coaches and assistant coaches as well as South Oldham principal Dorenda Neihof and assistant principal Nicole Adell are named in the suit. School officials referred comment to DeSensi.Badon’s parents claim school officials are aware of the alleged behavior or should have been aware and taken action.The Badons also claim intentional infliction of emotional distress by Fiser, alleging he knew about the abuse and did not notify Badon’s parents. According to the suit, the Badons claim Fiser told their son he was disappointed in him for telling his parents and that he damaged the team by his actions.The Badons, who have an unlisted phone number in Tennessee, seek medical costs for physical and psychological treatment and punitive damages, according to the lawsuit.Cantley filed lawsuits Friday in Meade and Floyd counties related to bullying.Advertising on her firm’s Web site seeks communication with other students who allege they have been bullied.She said the Badons tried to settle with the school before filing a lawsuit, and are unsatisfied with the response.They want to stop the culture of hazing and abuse they allege exists among athletes on the South Oldham wrestling team, she said.Parties named in the suit have 20 days to respond to the summons.

E-mail us about this story at: jfoster@oldhamera.com.