Jewish student, 17, allegedly made to eat pepperoni pizza as punishment, 8 Ohio football coaches suspended

Marcus Wattley, head coach at McKinley Senior High School in Canton, Ohio, and his 7 assistant coaches were suspended for administering the punishment


                            Jewish student, 17, allegedly made to eat pepperoni pizza as punishment, 8 Ohio football coaches suspended
For representation purposes only (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)
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Marcus Wattley, the head football coach at McKinley Senior High School in Canton, Ohio, and his seven assistant coaches were suspended after they allegedly forced a 17-year-old Jewish student to eat pepperoni pizza as punishment. According to reports, the eight coaches were placed on their forced leave as of last week. 

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According to a Daily Mail report, which quotes Canton Repository, the coaches had forced the student to eat the pork on May 28. The student had reportedly missed the practice because of suffering from a sore shoulder. Ed Gilbert, the attorney who represents the 17-year-old revealed on Tuesday, June 1 said that the teenager and his family were Jewish and did not eat pork.

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The attorney revealed that the student was ordered to sit in the middle of the school gym and was forced to eat an entire pepperoni pizza. The victim's teammates as well as the coaches reportedly yelled at him while he ate the pizza. It was also revealed that he was allowed to remove a bit of the cheese and slices of pepperoni, but the pork residue remained on the pizza. 

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A view of a Pepperoni hand tossed pizza at Pizza Hut on June 29, 2018 in Shreveport, Louisiana.

The attorney said that the student's position in the team would have been compromised and he might have also been forced to go through additional drills if he did not listen to his head coach. The attorney also added that the student was currently undergoing counseling while the Canton City Schools Superintendent Jeff Talbert confirmed that the coaches were suspended as of last week.

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Canton City School District wrote on Facebook, "The safety and wellbeing of our students is our top priority. The incident calls into question whether appropriate team management, discipline, and player accountability infrastructures are in place. The district is nearing the completion of its investigation regarding this incident." The statement further added, "Once a conclusion is reached, in accordance with our commitment to transparency, the district will provide additional information."

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Regional director for the Anti-Defamation League's Cleveland office, James Pasch, also tweeted "For school coaches to reportedly force a student to eat food in violation of his religious beliefs is unacceptable [and] outrageous. This student deserved better; all students deserve better."

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In a different case in Pickaway County Ohio, a teacher at Teays Valley West Middle School is facing multiple charges for allegedly having sex with a 12-year-old student over two weeks. The 33-year-old Mandy R Davis of South Bloomfield, Ohio faces charges of rape, gross sexual imposition, and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. The relationship between the student and teacher was reported by Davis' coworker as "an odd relationship".

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Teays Valley Local Schools in their statement issued on May 19 said "Since this is a pending personnel matter involving a district employee, our practice is not to publicly discuss the specific facts and circumstances. However, we can confirm that Ms Davis has been notified that her services are no longer needed by the Board of Education," it reads. "We take these allegations very seriously and are committed to the safety and well-being of our students as our first priority."

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