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Canton McKinley student allegedly forced to eat pepperoni pizza files a lawsuit against Canton City Schools in U.S. District Court

The student's attorney called the situation a “sad case of affairs” and decided to file the lawsuit after a delay of settlement with the district.

CANTON, Ohio — A Canton McKinley High School football player who was allegedly forced to eat pizza with pepperoni- a food against his family's religion- earlier this year has filed a lawsuit against the Canton City School District in the U.S. District Courts.

The lawsuit is seeking injunctive relief and damages after coaches forced the player, who was 17 years old at the time, to eat a pepperoni pizza for not attending a weight class.

The player is a practicing Hebrew Israelite, a religion that bans the consumption of pork.

The attorney representing the student, Ed Gilbert, told 3News the situation is a “sad case of affairs” and decided to file the lawsuit after a delay of settlement that was previously established with the school district.

3News has reached out to Canton City Schools for comment, but did not receive a reply at the time of publication. 

The Canton City School board of education unanimously fired McKinley football coach, Marcus Wattley, and six assistant coaches were fired in June after an investigation determined the coaches did force the player to violate his religious beliefs by eating pork.

You can read the full lawsuit submitted by Gilbert and the student below: 

Meanwhile, Peter Pattakos, attorney for former coach Marcus Wattley and assistant coach Tyler Thatcher, released the following statement to 3News regarding the most recent development in the case: 

"There was no settlement with the district over this event for good reason. Ohio law is clear that coaches have wide discretion in fulfilling their duties to train and discipline their players, and case after case has been thrown out of court that, unlike this one, involve real misconduct that caused substantial harm and even death to students, because the state is immune from lawsuits where the coaches were acting within their broad discretion. Any settlement paid by the district in this case would have been an egregious waste of public funds. The coaches' defamation lawsuit against attorney Ed Gilbert and K.W.'s father in connection with their wild and fictitious extortion campaign has been pending in Stark County since July. This lawsuit they just filed is only part of their effort to play defense after having been called out on their lies in having started this whole mess. We look forward to further exposing the truth about this matter in court and anyone interested in the same is free to review a copy of our 67-page complaint, which, unlike K.W.'s frivolous lawsuit, sets forth the truth in great and well-documented detail." 

This is a developing story. Check back with 3News for updates as we receive them. 


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