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The referee who faced a backlash after ordering a Buena Regional High School wrestler to cut his dreadlocks to avoid forfeiting a match, has filed a legal claim alleging defamation of character and emotional distress, according to a published report.
Wrestling official Alan Maloney filed a tort notice preserving his right to sue 12 possible defendants, including the Buena Regional School District and the New Jersey State Interscholastic Association, reported philly.com.
The Courier Post has requested a copy of the tort notice from the school district.
Maloney has been barred from officiating meets pending investigations by the NJSIAA and the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights.
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“As a precautionary measure, given the degree of attention being focused on this matter, the NJSIAA will recommend to chapter officials that the referee in question not be assigned to any event until this matter has been reviewed more thoroughly in order to avoid potential distractions for the competing wrestlers,” NJSIAA Larry White said in a statement.
The controversy erupted at a match against Absegami on Dec. 19 when Maloney told Buena wrestler Andrew Johnson to cover his dreadlocks with a hair cap — which Johnson did not have — or cut his hair. Otherwise, Johnson would have to forfeit the match.
Johnson opted for the haircut. A video of Johnson’s dreadlocks being cut before the match prompted outrage when it was posted on social media.
This story will be updated.
Follow Sheri Berkery on Twitter @SheriBerkery