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Lawsuit Filed Over Phillipsburg Wrestling Photo

A lawsuit will be filed over the controversial photo of Phillipsburg high school wrestlers posed as if they were lynching a practice dummy.

Outside of Phillipsburg High School
Outside of Phillipsburg High School (CBS New York)

The Star-Ledger reportsan African-American member of the Paulsboro team has filed an “intent to sue”notice with the Phillipsburg school district, Warren County and the seven students in the photo because he and his family felt ““clearly threatened and intimidated by the photo and the actions of the students.”

In the photo the wrestlers are apparently simulating a lynching of a brown-colored wrestling dummy in rival Paulsboro’s shirt taken after the Phillipsburg team defeated Paulsboro in a wrestling tournament.

Meanwhile, the attorney retained by the wrestlers tells the Express-Times they will not be giving any statements to investigators. “No person should ever speak when they’re a suspect in an investigation,” Scott Wilhelm told the newspaper. He believes the attorney general’s office is looking for evidence of a bias crime.

At a press conference with the wrestlers in the picture, WIlhelm explained that didn’t think what they were doing could be seen as insensitive and they were sorry for offending anyone. “In outfitting the wrestling dummy, we did not give any thought to the physical appearance of the dummy as anything other than an unidentified generic wrestler,” Wilhelm said, noting that the practice dummy is only manufactured using a dark leather.

Warren County Prosecutor Richard Burke is not surprised. “He’s just advised us that his clients will not be made available for interviews, which is certainly their right,” Burke said. “It’s not an unusual position for him to take.”


The Associated Press contributed to this report


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