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Duncan family files lawsuit against high school athletic coordinator for harassment, assault, inflecting emotional distress

DUNCAN, Okla. – A Duncan family has filed a lawsuit against the high school athletic coordinator, accusing him of harassment, assault and battery, inflicting emotional distress.

The family’s lawsuit alleges that last December, Duncan High School Athletic Coordinator Craig Benson yelled at a student athlete, spit in his face and insulted him at a wrestling tournament.

One woman told KSWO that she is glad someone is finally speaking out.

“My thoughts were ‘good somebody needs to do something about it. Somebody needs to take Benson down. He needs to be held liable for everything that he has done to the kids, to the parents, to the teachers, some that have quit, and some that have lost their jobs,'” said the woman.

Other people called the claims bogus, saying this lawsuit is is another case of parents complaining because someone had to discipline their child.

“I think in this day and age teachers and coaches are in a difficult position. Parents don’t want to discipline their kids ad home, they don’t respect authority, and it puts the teachers and coaches in a hard spot because they have do it at school and unfortunately the kids have to be reprimanded. They are not perfect, they have to learn how to act and how to respect authority and a lot of them don’t,” Duncan Quarterback Club President Kelly Kirkland said.

According to documents obtained by KSWO, the petition states Benson gave the student athlete instructions while preparing for a wrestling tournament, then began shouting at the student, accusing him of insubordination.

The student claims Benson spit in his face and continued to insult him in front of other students.

Benson released a statement to KSWO saying, “I deny the allegations and I am going to vigorously defend myself.”

The lawsuit also accuses Duncan Public Schools of negligent hiring and retention.

Duncan Public Schools Superintendent Melanie Hau also released a statement:

“While we are aware of the filing of the lawsuit, neither the District nor our legal counsel has had an opportunity to fully review and analyze its specifics.The District does not comment on pending litigation. However, we consider the well-being of our students of paramount importance.We believe that it is important to note that the lawsuit does not allege in any way that the District employee ever physically harmed or made direct physical contact with the student. Legal counsel for the District will respond to the lawsuit in a timely manner,” said Hau

According to the Duncan Banner, the family is requesting the matter be “heard and tried by a jury” and are seeking  “damages at the highest amount permitted by statute for each count and for any and all other relief.”