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The families who sued Clover school officials – alleging that district employees helped cover up hazing incidents in Clover High’s football locker room last fall – have dropped their cases, according to documents filed in federal court.
The school district agreed to the families’ “stipulation of dismissal without prejudice,” which means both lawsuits are dismissed but could come up again.
The move brings a close, at least temporarily, to a saga that started last fall, when 13 varsity football players were suspended amid allegations that three players – ages 14, 15 and 17 – had been hazed.
The incidents took place on three separate days in September 2011 at the end of the school day in the varsity football locker room before practice.
School officials asked the York County Sheriff's Office to investigate rumors that during one instance a student had been sexually assaulted with a broom.
On Nov. 3, after the investigation, York County Solicitor Kevin Brackett and Sheriff Bruce Bryant dismissed the allegations as “horse play.”
Sheriff’s investigation records later released to The Herald under the state’s open records law showed that the students had been physically accosted at school, but it’s unclear exactly what happened.
The families of two of the victims – the 14-year-old and the 17-year-old – filed the lawsuits, alleging that after the teens were bullied, beaten and hazed by older players, school employees helped the attackers cover up what happened.
The lawsuits named more than 20 defendants, including Superintendent Marc Sosne, all seven school board members, Clover High Principal Mark Hopkins, former head football coach John Devine and several alleged student attackers.
They did not identify who was allegedly involved in covering up the incidents.
The families of the students – identified in court records by initials only – accused the school district of gross negligence, civil conspiracy, violating the teens’ constitutional rights and the Safe Schools Climate Act, and intentionally inflicting emotional distress.
Over the summer, district officials asked a judge to dismiss the suits because they were vague and “fail(ed) as a matter of law.” The district’s attorneys requested that the court dismiss “with prejudice,” which means the case couldn’t come up again.
Later, lawyers for the families filed their requests to dismiss without prejudice, and the school district agreed.
That came after the families’ attorney, Richard J. Breibart of Lexington, was suspended from practicing law amid a federal investigation. A court-appointed attorney was brought in to protect Breibart’s client’s interests.
Last month, Breibart, 61, was arrested and charged with extorting some $1 million from clients, whom he allegedly duped into paying for legal representation in phony cases. A federal indictment charges him with mail fraud, extortion and having money illegally wired to his accounts across state lines.
Breibart has pleaded not guilty.
The (Columbia) State contributed