Ousted Vallejo Football Coach Sues Diocese After Reporting Sex Abuse

Specifics in the lawsuit refer to the varsity players "punking" the freshmen, which included assaulting them with their genitalia

View Comments ()
|
Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    Specifics in the lawsuit refer to the varsity players "punking" the freshmen, which included assaulting them with their genitalia. Jodi Hernandez talks to the coach to see why he sued. (Published Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013)

    The head football coach of a Catholic high school in Vallejo sued the Sacramento Diocese on Wednesday claiming he was unfairly fired after he reported sexual abuse in a hazing scandal.

    Chris Cerbone, who had been the coach at St. Vincent-St. Patrick High School for six months, said he was told by freshmen players that varsity players were involved in serious hazing and sexual misconduct.

    Fire Coach Speaks Out About Hazing Incident

    [BAY] Fire Coach Speaks Out About Hazing Incident
    Five varsity football players were expelled and their coach fired following reports of hazing. Jean Elle talks to the coach who says losing his job sends the wrong message to kids. (Published Monday, Jan 28, 2013)

    Specifics in the lawsuit refer to the varsity players "punking" the freshmen, which included assaulting them with their genitalia.

    In December, Cerbone reported that abuse to Child Protective Services and filed a report with the school's principal. He and some other coaches were put on leave, and then he was fired at the end of January. The school is part of the Sacramento Archdiocese, and the lawsuit was filed in Sacramento County.

    Coach Fired, Players Suspended for Hazing at Vallejo HS

    [BAY] Coach Fired, Players Suspended for Hazing at Vallejo HS
    School officials at St. Patrick St. Vincent High School in Vallejo have fired their football coach and expelled five varsity football players connected to a hazing incident. Jodi Hernandez reports. (Published Friday, Jan 25, 2013)

    “I reported the abuse because I wanted to stop it and to protect the kids from any further harm,” Cerbone said in a statement sent to NBC Bay Area on Wednesday.  “It was a complete shock to be fired for doing the right thing.”

    His San Francisco attorney, David Lowe, added: “This is a classic case of whistle blower retaliation. The Diocese should be ashamed of its role in firing a teacher for reporting sexual abuse.”

    Kevin Eckery, spokesman for the Diocese, said he had not yet seen the lawsuit, but overall, the Diocese stood by its actions.

    The suit claims defamation, wrongful termination and retaliation and seeks lost wages, emotional distress and punitive damages.

    As a result of the hazing,  five varsity football players were also expelled.

    In a previous interview, Principal Mary Ellen Ryan said in a statement that she "dismissed the head coach, who had ultimate responsibility for supervising the students during the time the inappropriate behavior took place."

    At the time, Cerbone told NBC Bay Area that he was very angry: "The minute I found out about it I raised the red flag and brought it to their attention to save the kids from more misery and I get fired."

    For related stories: