Thursday, September 20, 2018
Education

Another former student sues Clearwater Central Catholic over wrestling coach's conduct

A second Clearwater Central Catholic High alumnus is taking legal action against the school and its former wrestling coach, saying the coach abused him.

According to a lawsuit filed Feb. 2 in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court, the plaintiff, identified as "John Doe II," alleges that the coach, Scott E. Stern, required him to take a drug test in the summer of 2011, his first year at the school. When the student tested positive for marijuana, Stern told the student that Stern could either punish him or tell his mother, the lawsuit said.

Not wanting his mother know about his drug use, the student opted to be disciplined by Stern, the lawsuit said. It said Stern required the student to memorize literature and recite it in the wrestling locker room. Then, when the student made mistakes, Stern told the student to take off his clothes and bend over, and Stern would hit him with a ruler, the lawsuit said.

According to the lawsuit, Stern also taught the student to assume sexual positions and to simulate sexual activities for Stern to "observe, critique and salaciously enjoy."

The student also alleges that, after he graduated in 2014, Stern called and threatened to harm him if he revealed his conduct to others.

Stern was the school's wrestling coach from 2003 to 2014.

In lawsuit filed in September, another former CCC student identified as "Joe Doe" made similar allegations against Stern.

The former coach spent 60 days in Pinellas County Jail in 2015 after he pleaded no contest to two counts of misdemeanor battery. He was accused in that case of hitting two CCC students after forcing them to strip naked in 2014. One student said Stern forced him to take off his clothes, grabbed him by the throat and groin, and yelled at him. The other said Stern forced him to strip naked and struck his buttocks with a ruler.

Tampa attorney Jason Whittemore, who represents John Doe and John Doe II, would not comment on whether his clients were the same boys involved in the criminal cases.

John Doe II is suing for negligence and intentional wrongful conduct. He alleges Stern was unqualified to monitor at-risk youth and that the school should have been aware of a 1999 Pinellas County School District investigation into Stern.

In that case, Stern was accused of ordering a Pinellas Park High student to strip naked and hold a ruler over his head before calling the student an idiot. Stern was a volunteer at the school at the time, and prosecutors declined to file charges.

Lawyers representing CCC filed a motion in September to dismiss John Doe's complaints of negligence and vicarious liability against the school. Whittemore has since amended that complaint.

Neither Stern, 48, nor CCC president John Venturella returned calls for comment.

Contact Colleen Wright at [email protected] or (727) 893-8643. Follow @Colleen_Wright.

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