Jury rules against Raytown school in discrimination suit

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A Jackson County jury ruled Monday that the Raytown school district discriminated against former Missouri basketball star Jevon Crudup when firing him from a coaching job.

Crudup was fired in 2003 after swearing at his sophomore basketball players in a tape-recorded tirade. An attorney for the district also maintained that Crudup ignored a principal's instruction to "walk away" from a confrontation with a parent.

The jury awarded Crudup $50,000 in actual damages, after the coach, who is black, argued he was treated differently from white coaches who were caught swearing. The jury also ordered the school district to pay Crudup $250,000 in punitive damages.

"I'm more than pleased," Dennis Egan, Crudup's attorney, told The Kansas City Star.

The case originally went to trial in Jackson County Circuit Court last July but resulted in a deadlocked jury after more than two weeks of testimony.

But in an invasion-of-privacy case against Scott and Denise McCarter, who taped the tirade and whose son played for Crudup, the jury agreed that the taping interfered with the coach's employment. Crudup was awarded $3,249.80 in actual damages and $25,000 in punitive damages in that case. Monday's verdict on that matter went against Crudup.

The McCarters' attorney, Andy Protzman, said he would decide whether to appeal the judgment from the first trial after he discusses the issue further with his clients.

The school district maintains that race was not a factor in Crudup's dismissal, saying it decided to fire him only after learning about the tape.

"In this situation, the school district took the action that it determined was in the best interest of its students," said Shellie Guinn, the district's attorney. "That's the way these folks operate. They always err on the side of the students."

Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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