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High School Coach Accused|of Violent and Vile Behavior

SCRANTON, Pa. (CN) - A violent high school coach called a wrestler a "pussy" and a "faggot," assaulted him and harassed and humiliated him and his sister, who also was on the team, the family claims in court.

Codie and Amber Moeck claim wrestling coaches subjected the siblings to ridicule, bullying, obscenities, sexual intimidation and discrimination, culminating in physical assault and hospitalizations.

Their mother, Lori Moeck, claims both her children were abused so badly they had to go to hospital emergency room visits before they were forced to quit the team, and then were further tormented by peers at school after Codie was attacked during practice by head wrestling coach Mark Getz.

The family sued the Pleasant Valley School District, its Superintendent Douglas C. Arnold, assistant superintendent Anthony Fadule, high school principal John J. Gress and Getz, the head wrestling coach, in Federal Court.

Codie was asked to join the wrestling team as a freshman. He claims he had to threaten to quit the team to let his sister Amber wrestle. Amber was a junior with eight years of wrestling experience. The Moecks claim Getz and his team humiliated and demeaned her because she is a girl.

They claim that school administrators knew that Getz had a "propensity for aggression and inappropriate verbal abuse but ignored this behavior because of the success of the wrestling program which benefited the Pleasant Valley School District, and therefore, encouraged the inappropriate misogynist and homophobic culture."

The culture was fed by assistant wrestling coaches, who, with Getz, repeatedly harassed and abused Amber, the complaint states.

Coaches asked Amber if she had got her period, discussed a "threesome" with her, shared sexual encounters in graphic detail with the entire team, called team members "weak like girls," told male wrestlers to do wrestling moves "like you're with your girlfriend ... fully penetrate her," yelled at Amber to "get her balls to the mat," yelled "Hey, how's it feel knowing that's probably the only woman you'll ever have on top of you" to a special-needs boy who was wrestling Amber - among other things, according to the complaint.

One boy was cut from the team because his mother objected to team visits to Hooters, the complaint states. Another was banned from the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association for life after verbally retaliating against Getz, who had grabbed him by the throat and thrown him against a wall, according to the complaint.

The final straw came on Dec. 3, 2012, when the coaches goaded 145-pound Codie for quitting a match-up against a 220-pound student who "was known to lose his temper during 'live wrestle' (as if wrestling in a match) situations," the complaint states.

Codie claims he stopped wrestling because his opponent became violent and threw him through wooden double doors into the hallway. Getz ordered Codie back to wrestle, and allowed the larger boy to strike him on the side of the head with a closed fist before they were back into position, according to the complaint.

Codie claims Getz urged him to hit the larger boy back, but Codie tried to leave until assistant coach Zaricky blocked the door and said that leaving would harm Codie's chances of getting a scholarship.


"Students were concerned they would not get the sought out scholarships to various colleges [and t]his was the carrot that Getz would dangle in front of his students to keep them in line and to keep them silent," the complaint states.

Zaricky, whose first name is not mentioned, is not a party to the complaint.

That day Getz screamed that Codie was "a fucking pussy, a quitter," and "a fucking faggot," to which Codie responded, "Fuck you, coach; I am done with all of this crap and this shitty team," the complaint states.

It continues: "Getz, enraged, immediately jumped up, approached Codie menacingly and screamed in Codie's face, 'Just who do you think you are fucking talking to? I am not your fucking parents, and you do not fucking swear at me!'

"Defendant Getz then grabbed the front of Codie's shirt, lifted him onto his toes, and ran with him across the entire wrestling room into the back wall of the gymnasium, causing him to smash his head and back into the wall.

"Defendant Mark Getz held Codie up on the wall with his forearm and screamed for him to get his 'fucking ass back over there;' and then let go of him, causing Codie to fall to the floor.

"Codie, in shock, pain and in fear, began vomiting, which resulted in an asthma attack.

"Despite seeing Codie in obvious respiratory distress, Defendant Mark Getz only asked [the Moeck's eldest daughter and team manager] Ashley, 'What's he doing?'

"When Ashley informed defendant Mark Getz that Codie was having an asthma attack, Getz still did not summon help but rather told Ashley to get his inhaler.

"For the next 10 minutes defendant Mark Getz allowed Codie to lie there without assistance from anyone, and ordered the other kids to resume their wrestling practice, saying, 'Get away from him, he's fine.'

"Despite Defendant Getz's orders, two teammates lifted Codie up and took him out to the hallway while Ashley ran for the trainer.

"When the inhaler had little effect, Ashley made the call to her mother, Lori.

"Lori was particularly concerned because Codie had previously suffered from secondary impact syndrome from multiple concussions, a fact that was known to defendant Mark Getz before he caused him to hit his head."

Code was treated for asthma at the hospital, which also evaluated his head injury and multiple contusions with abrasions, the complaint states.

"Later, when Lori questioned Ashley about what occurred, Ashley was reluctant to inform her because, while Codie was in the ER, defendant Mark Getz told all the members of the wrestling team that 'what happens in the room, stays in the room,' urging them not to tell the truth about what occurred," the complaint states.

The Moecks claim that Getz initially denied being present for the incident, then changed his story in repeated phone calls to Lori, telling her that Codie "went nuts" and claiming to have "no idea what set him off."

Getz told the mother that he doesn't "'hold a grudge against any kid, and Codie is more than welcome in my room tomorrow, is he coming back? He has nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of, you know,'" according to the complaint.

Getz told wrestlers who had to fill out incident reports that he was sorry they "all had to go through this because someone had to go and open their mouth," the family says.

The complaint states: "At defendant Gress' direction, defendant Percey called Lori and informed her that he has 'no power over the situation,' and that he was just a teacher put in the athletic director position. [Percey's first name does not appear in the complaint, nor is he listed as a defendant.]

"Despite plaintiffs' complaints over their treatment, the sole remedy that was instituted was the placement of wrestling mats on the very doors that Codie was thrown through, presumably placed there to prevent injury to a subsequent student, should they be thrown through those very doors.

"On December 20, 2012, Amber was interviewed by defendant Fadule, who, throughout the interview refused to accept her version, interrupted her continuously, responded, 'No, that's not what happened,' and insisted on characterizing the assault on Codie as a 'restraint.'

"Defendant Fadule used the same tactics when he interviewed Codie on December 20, 2012, and continued to insist that defendant Mark Getz used a 'restraint technique' despite Codie's attempt to physically demonstrate how he was grabbed and slammed up against the wall by Getz.

"On or about February 11, 2013, defendant Mark Getz forced only Amber, and no others, to wrestle 'full on' nonstop, with no water, and no 30-second cool downs, until she vomited.

"When Amber began to vomit, Defendant Getz, along with the other coaches, simply stood by and laughed."

When Codie returned to school with a black eye, sore back, swollen head and other symptoms, students asked him why he "beat up the wrestling coach," the complaint states.

Getz was suspended in March, but not because of the situation with the Moecks, the family says in the complaint.

The Moecks seek compensatory and punitive damages for assault and battery, state-created danger, intentional infliction of emotional distress and constitutional violations. They are represented by Jonathan James and Michael Schwartz of Philadelphia.

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