PENDLETON, N.Y. — Charges have been filed in connection with an investigation involving the Starpoint School District wrestling team.
The Niagara County Sheriff's Office issued a press release stating the incidents allegedly happened in January.
The Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigation Bureau recommended the charges after "a thorough investigation." Two 17-year-old Starpoint students have each been charged with one count of harassment in the second degree in connection with an incident that allegedly happened at a private residence on Townline Road in the Town of Wheatfield.
The release says additional harassment charges "are pending for the same two juvenile students in the Town of Pendleton stemming from allegations, which occurred on the Starpoint School District Property."
New York law states "a person is guilty of harassment in the second degree when, with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person, he or she strikes, shoves, kicks or otherwise subjects such other person to physical contact, or attempts or threatens to do the same."
The names of the teens involved are not being released due to their age. The Niagara County Sheriff's Office says the Starpoint School District cooperated fully with the investigation.
Lockport attorney Angelo DiMillo says these charges undermine the Title IX violation filed against his client by the school district.
"We think that the superintendent overreacted and recklessly did his job," DiMillo said.
DiMillo also doesn't understand how the Niagara County Sheriff's Office narrowed the charges down to his client, and another student.
"We believe it stems from the horseplay between these Starpoint wrestlers where they were jumping out each other is just joking around." DiMillo said. "From the investigation we've had, there are a number of wrestlers, all high school wrestlers, jumping on each other horseplay piling and things of that nature."
DiMillo says he has evidence of a number of students participating in a dog pile. However, because the charges are only a violation, DiMillo says any specifics won't be revealed until the April 28 court date.
"Why they singled out my client?" DiMillo asked. "I don't know, it still is very difficult to ascertain that."
The district canceled the remainder of the 2022-23 season after it had "received serious allegations of inappropriate conduct by one or more members" of the wrestling team.
Starpoint Schools Superintendent Sean M. Croft issued this statement:
"The Starpoint Central School District is aware of criminal charges brought forth today related to two high school students. The District will not comment on any investigations or charges by any law enforcement agency.
"The District will continue to take all appropriate and necessary measures to protect our students. We ask that the privacy of all students and their families be respected at this time."
Specific details of the incident have not been released.