Parents of assault victim cry foul
By Linda Metz, Staff writer
An attorney representing a Canon-McMillan High School student and her parents want to meet with school administrators in an effort to stop what they believe to be unfair treatment of the girl, who wants nothing more than to play softball for the Big Macs.
However, the district canceled a meeting scheduled for today and is refusing to allow them to speak at the next school board meeting, the parents' attorney, Matt Keranko, said.
"She's being singled out," said Keranko, who is representing Lori and James Maier of Canonsburg. "She's being embarrassed and harassed."
The girl is one of two who were sexually assaulted by former Canon-McMillan volunteer softball coach Justin Bedilion.
Bedilion, 25, of Waynesburg, pleaded guilty in January to sexually assaulting the two girls and supplying alcohol to minors on several occasions. He was sentenced to 3 to 6 years in prison followed by 4 years of probation. He also has to register his whereabouts with police for the rest of his life.
Bedilion was arrested in August 2006 for engaging in sex acts on separate occasions with the Maiers' then-15-year-old daughter, who was on the softball team, and a 13-year-old girl who lifted weights with the team.
The Maiers filed the federal lawsuit less than a month after Bedilion's sentencing. They claim that the district and the employees did nothing to stop the assaults.
In addition to a monetary award, the Maiers are asking that the school officials involved lose their licenses and their jobs. Former principal Linda Nichols, softball coach Michele Moeller, former Superintendent Eugene Buchleitner, Superintendent Nick Bayat and Bedilion were named as defendants.
Moeller recently took a leave of absence from her position. Steve Moskal, assistant varsity coach, was recently named interim head coach.
According to Keranko, unfair treatment of the girl, now 17, began before Moeller left the team. He said Moeller at one point refused to coach the second-year varsity player.
Things have not improved since Moskal's appointment, the parents maintain. During team tryouts earlier this month, the girl was the only player required to perform a timed running test before Moskal. Her teammates tested each other.
Moskal said she failed the test. However, upon retesting March 11 by athletic director Guy Montecalvo and principal Dave Helinski, the girl passed. In fact, she was one of just four girls on the team to pass the running test, Keranko stated.
That same day, the girl reported that Moskal confronted her and said, "You will never step foot on my mound. I am not Moeller."
Keranko described the girl as a talented softball player with good grades who has been approached by various colleges.
He added that conditions have been made so bad that she stopped participating with the team last week.
When contacted Tuesday afternoon, Bayat said he was aware of the situation, but he couldn't comment on it.
"We will give due process," Bayat said