The Canton City School District has released the video of the entire incident involving several coaches who allegedly forced a player to consume a pepperoni pizza against despite him vocalizing his religious objections.
The video, which was first released to the player’s family, has been obtained by JMN.
Ed Gilbert, the family for the player’s family, is saying the child was never provided the option of eating the pizza or chicken nuggets. He calls the claim, made by former head coach Marcus Wattley, untrue.
Gilbert alleges in the video you can see the child being taunted by several teammates. He says one teammate event tried to assault the player being forced to eat the pizza.
Gilbert says the family has asked the U.S. District Attorney and the FBI to open an investigation to determine if there was a criminal violation involving the Hate Crime Acts based on religious beliefs.
In a statement by Peter Pattakos, the attorney for former head coach Marcus Wattley and assistant coach Frank McLeod, he is calling the information presented by Gilbert as false.
“Since Ed Gilbert first published his false and defamatory accusations that Marcus Wattley and his staff forced one of their players to eat pork, at least 14 witnesses who were in the room that day, including 6 coaches and 8 players, have gone on record to confirm that this young man was not forced to eat or do anything,” he said. “Not a single witness has gone public to support Gilbert’s misinterpretation of this video. Now that the truth has come out, Gilbert is apparently desperate, and sadly unable to admit his mistake, so he has now decided to release the silent video and compound his lies about it, which continue to be unsupported by a single witness.”
Pattakos claims the alleged victim was never assaulted by a player. He says the victim was trying to leave the voluntary training session and he was “held back” by teammates who wanted him to stay with his team “in the spirit of the lesson of teamwork and accountability that was being conveyed that day.”