Referee sues, cites assault by players
A high school football referee claims he was punched in the face by two West St. Mary Wolfpack members and says two coaches did nothing to stop the players.
Referee Steven Leger filed suit Nov. 27 for pain and suffering as well as medical damages he says stemmed from the Nov. 1 game between West St. Mary and the Erath High School Bobcats.
Leger was among several referees jogging off the field when members of the Wolfpack team surrounded him, Leger’s suit states. Two players “assaulted and battered the plaintiff, striking him with closed fists in the head and face, causing painful symptoms and injuries,” the suit states.
West St. Mary’s head coach Marquis Newsome and assistant coach Kenneth Bashay are named in the lawsuit, filed in 16th Judicial District Court.
The Wolfpack played the Bobcats at home in a 22-20 loss. The game had to be stopped with 10 seconds left to play because chaos began to occur along the West St. Mary sideline between the players, assistant coaches and the referee, the Abbeville Meridional reported.
The lawsuit states Leger ejected Bashay after he “became enraged and began to curse, scream, and verbally abuse” Leger. Newsome then allegedly told Leger he did not know Bashay’s name and “refused to direct Bashay to leave the field.” The suit adds that the actions of Bashay and Newsome “continued to inflame the West St. Mary High School football players.”
The filing also states that the pair of coaches “made no effort whatsoever to restrain the West St. Mary High School football players or prevent the members of the football team from assaulting and battering (Leger) and in refusing to do so encouraged and approved the assault.”
The lawsuit accuses the school of failing to provide adequate security to prevent an assault and battery upon Leger and the other officials.
St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s deputies are on hand for all West St. Mary High School games, St. Mary Parish Sheriff Mark Hebert said.
A sportsmanship hearing will be held at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association at 1 p.m. Dec. 17 to discuss the incident and decide what action, if any, must be taken, according to Kenny Henderson, executive director.
Greg Gautreaux, president of the Lafayette Area Football Officials Association, told the Meridional that a player or coach hitting an official is, “very, very rare in high school.” He could not ever remember it occurring in the Acadiana area, he said.
Keith Alexander of the LHSAA told the Meridional, “It concerns us what occurred. I have been (with LHSAA) six years and this is the first year I hear of a coach or player hitting a high school referee. This is pretty bad.”
Henderson said there are no statistics on how often such an incident happens because “it’s so minimal that it probably wouldn’t make a stat.”
Alexander said West St. Mary Principal Derrick White suspended the two players from school and there is a good chance they will also be expelled.
Upon being asked about the disciplinary actions taken against the two students and two employees, St. Mary Superintendent Donald Aguillard said this morning in an email, “The school district does not disclose outcomes of student or employee disciplinary matters. Please be assured that the matter has been thoroughly investigated.”
The students, 15- and 16-year-old Baldwin residents whose names are included in the lawsuit but not being released by The Daily Review due to their ages, were charged at 1:45 p.m. Nov. 8 with battery of a school or recreational athletic official. Both were released to their guardians.
As for the attorneys in the case, plaintiff lawyer Chris Villemarette of Lafayette was in court this morning and did not return phone calls.
On the defense’s side, “Our position is that we do not comment on pending litigation. I do not have the authority to speak for the board,” Eric Duplantis, School Board attorney said.