Referee in dreadlocks controversy files legal claim notice

WILLIAMSTOWN, N.J. (AP) — A referee who told a New Jersey high school wrestler to cut his dreadlocks or forfeit his bout has filed a legal claim preserving his right to a possible lawsuit.

The tort claim notice sent by referee Alan Maloney to a dozen possible defendants alleges $100,000 damages, defamation of character and emotional distress.

Buena Regional student Andrew Johnson had his dreadlocks cut minutes before the Dec. 19 match. Johnson, who is black, had a hair covering, but Maloney, who is white, said that wouldn’t do.

Maloney has been barred from officiating pending investigations by state civil rights and interscholastic athletic association officials.

In New Jersey, a notice of tort must be filed within 90 days of an incident.

Maloney hasn’t responded to requests for comment. The school superintendent declined comment.

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