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Peter Lucas

Lucas

A former Henley High School wrestling coach arrested in 2015 for physically and verbally harassing a student has denied wrongdoing in a lawsuit filed by the victim.

On Tuesday, Peter Lucas, 59, of Klamath Falls, filed a response in Klamath County Circuit Court Tuesday denying the bulk of the plaintiff’s claims.

Though Lucas admitted certain events occurred as described by the student, he denied elements of the suit implicating him in wrongdoing.

Lucas was arrested for an incident March 6, 2015, when he allegedly told other students to pile on top of the victim after the victim was unable to complete laps during gym class. Lucas then allegedly held his shoe to the victim’s face and saying, “I stepped in dog s--t today, can you smell it?”

Lucas pleaded no contest March 14, 2016, to first-degree official misconduct and harassment and was sentenced to a year of probation and the revocation of his Oregon teaching license. His charges were dismissed March 21 after he successfully completed probation.

The student filed suit March 2 through guardian ad litem Amanda Somme. He is seeking $679,900 from Lucas and the Klamath County School District.

In his answer to the lawsuit, Lucas admitted, on the day in question, the student asked Lucas to be excused from laps due to a knee injury and that “certain students tackled or ‘piled’ onto plaintiff,” during class. However, Lucas denied all other elements of the alleged incident.

Lucas also admitted to previously being disciplined by the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission while he was employed by the Crook County School District.

The plaintiff said Lucas was disciplined for using unnecessary physical force against separate students in 2001 and 2002. Lucas said he was reprimanded for “alleged acts involving a student” and “alleged interaction with a student,” but provided no further detail and denied the remainder of the plaintiff’s claims.

Lucas said he cannot be held personally liable for any alleged wrongdoing as he was a district employee at the time and instead the district should be held accountable. He also said the lawsuit failed to state an actionable claim and was filed past the appropriate statute of limitations.

Lucas asked for the suit to be dismissed and himself removed as a defendant, as well as reasonable court costs and attorney’s fees. The district similarly denied the student’s claims May 19 and asked for dismissal of the suit and an award for legal costs.

A hearing to potentially set a trial date is scheduled for July 31 before Judge Andrea Janney.