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Wrestling Coach Files Harassment Claim Against Oxford Board of Ed Member

Claim threatens suit against town and Board of Ed if measures aren't taken.

Board of Ed member and former assistant wrestling coach Gerard Carbonaro. Patch File Photo
Board of Ed member and former assistant wrestling coach Gerard Carbonaro. Patch File Photo
An alleged “pattern of harassment” by an Oxford Board of Education (BOE) member has moved high school wrestling coach Benjamin Blue to file a notice of claim against the town and BOE that might soon lead to a lawsuit.

Blue filed the claim citing board member and former assistant coach Gerard Carbonaro for harassing the coach and his family at matches and interfering with his job.

In the claim, Blue’s attorney, Steven Colarossi, states that Carbonaro has been going to wrestling matches to heckle the head coach since Carbonaro was fired from the assistant coaching position a year ago.

The claim — embedded above — also asserts that "Carbonaro’s presumed ill-feelings” are influencing Blue’s annual professional review.

Carbonaro did not return requests for comment.

“Mr. Carbonaro, upon information and belief, under the guise of being a lawful member of the Oxford Board of Education, which he is not, has engaged in a habitual and consistent pattern of harassment and intimidation of Mr. Blue (and members of his family) by, among direct and indirect actions, heckling Mr. Blue at wrestling matches,” the claim states.

Colarossi asserts that Carbonaro should not be considered a member of the BOE, as he was sworn in while still employed by the district as a coach, and cites the BOE as complicit, for allowing these actions to take place.

“School and district officials have refused to intervene to prevent a continuation of this conduct and, in fact, have apparently condoned such action,” the claim states.

Board of Ed Chairman Diane Soracco confirmed that Carbonaro is still a member of the board and is no longer employed by the district in any capacity but declined to comment further, citing personnel issues.

Parent of recent Oxford High grads and 5-year volunteer with the wrestling program Michael Mardis said he has seen Carbonaro at matches harassing Coach Blue.

“As a parent of a former wrestler and a volunteer, I can tell you this is making his life miserable,” Mardis said. [Disclosure: Mardis’ wife, Susan Kiernan, is a BOE member.] “To this day he’ll go to matches and yell at the coach and threaten to get him fired.”

Mardis said he hopes to see this come to an end and suggested Carbonaro step down or be removed from the BOE.

Colarossi (a former Norwalk Board of Education member) filed a notice of claim with the town and school district last week and is preparing to file suit with Milford Superior Court.
kathy johnson February 09, 2014 at 12:37 PM
Once you file a law suit it is no longer a private subject. The two adult coaches should fix this and soon if they care about their young athletes.
Bonnie February 09, 2014 at 01:02 PM
Like I had mentioned in my earlier post (the day this story was posted), any and all comments by any member that is involved in this should stay off this site and comment board. If the lawyers representing the parties in this case had any concern for their clients they'd tell them NOT to post anything along with family members of these parties. A lawyers certainly should not spout off on a public forum, my lawyer certainly wouldn't go posting comments pointing fingers (not that I'm actively using my lawyer). I don't understand why this matter had to be brought as a law suit, can't 2 people straighten things out on their own without getting lawyers involved? I think some people need to swallow their pride and either admit they're wrong or move on. Life is too damn short to be Sue happy.. Be a bigger person and ignore another if they say words. As the saying goes...sticks n stones... The kids in the high school have enough to deal with, they don't need this too! Just my personal opinion.
kathy johnson February 09, 2014 at 06:59 PM
Bonnie I agree. Everytime I saught revenge because my feelings were hurt it always bit me in the ass. I can understand both coaches because I have been there myself and burned a few bridges. Sometimes you just have to turn your back and walk away. Life teaches us all some very hard lessons and most times humanity makes the same mistakes over again. Even now I just can't help myself. I still need to post. I think I better say a prayer and stop.
Me February 09, 2014 at 07:56 PM
A smart lawyer who is tactically trying bate someone to respond would spout off, and effectively at that.
Oxford Citizen February 09, 2014 at 11:24 PM
It is clear what has happened here: someone finally stood up to THE BULLY & THE BULLY can't take it!!! Waaaahhh!!! Waaaahhh!!! Ben Blue yelled at me!!! Waaaahhh!!! Blah, blah, blah!!! Cut me a break already! Kudos to you Ben, someone should have done this a long time ago. Has anyone ever noticed that Gerard has a long history of bullying people?? Also, did you notice that a lot of the incidents involve spouting off at children's events, in front of the children just because poor little Gerard didn't get his way??!! Listen, we're not talking once or twice, there is a long list of incidents & according to him it's never his fault! He's been banned from Pop Warner football, was involved in an incident at a YOUTH wrestling event in front of the kids, where the police had to be called. Then there was the high school football incidents where first he had a fight with another coach in the locker room of the high school & then continues that fight a year later at midfield after the Newtown game(a place that he had no business being since he was no longer a coach). Again, both times in front of the children. Now comes the high school wrestling where he verbally assaults a YOUTH in the stands because he doesn't like what he says(also in front of the kids). Carbs finally got fired after that one & to this day stews about it, saying that Ben Blue didn't stand up for him! Why should he stand up for you?? He stood UP to you and you can't handle it! Ever since then you have tried to undermine his coaching & swore that you were gonna get him fired. Ben was way out of character in yelling at you, but you have antagonized that man & his family for two years now! Sorry Gerard, you deserved it & definitely had it coming. You stated earlier that you are "tired of the antagonist being portrayed as a victim". So am I Gerard, and so are a lot more citizens of Oxford fed up with it too. To your credit, you have done a lot of good things for the kids, as has Ben. But you have also done a lot of harm based on your eruptions in front of them. Enough is enough, quit being a bully. Kathy, you should say a prayer. Say a prayer that Gerard realizes the errors of his ways & stops blaming everyone else.
Craig Zac February 10, 2014 at 08:10 AM
D has summed this up the best: "As a young adult, I should not have to feel the need to remind you of this. This is a discussion that should be happening behind closed doors- not on the internet. This is embarrassing." On the flip side, its kind of entertaining to watch a bunch of ADULTS wig out and act as bad as or worse than, children on a play ground... lol So, Carry on if you must and don't mind me, i'll be over here in the corner eating pop corn and enjoying the B**ch fest!
Dillon James Kuperberg February 13, 2014 at 08:09 AM
I think it's really sad to see two men that I admire and owe a lot of my highschool years best moments to come to this. I wrestled for coach Blue and coach Carb. I used to go to team get togethers at coach blues house and coach carb would be there, they used to be such great friends, it's just sad. However I have seen one of these outbursts from carbs after he got fired. He would fire off his mouth at times at meets but that's just being in the heat of the moment. Once again I'd just like to express my sadness on this subject, they used to balance each other out in practice. Coach Blue being the easier one (not by much) and coach Carb always yelling at you to push yourself and at meets coach Blue would give you the "do what you can and do your best and it'll work out" speech while coach Carb gave the "get out there and kick his butt" speech. They're both great coaches, I wish they would just settle this petty crap.
kathy johnson February 13, 2014 at 09:03 AM
Coach carb may be angry because his political enemyies have pushed his buttons. Politics can be a dirty game. Ever since Carb has been elected to BOE he has been kicked around. I suspect that coach Blue is in the same boat.
Oxford Citizen February 13, 2014 at 06:05 PM
Kathy, yes this does deal with dirty politics. The bottom line appears to be that Carbs is using his position on the BOE to put pressure on the administration to fire Ben Blue. Plain & simple as that. He has had a personal vendetta against Ben for over two years now because Ben didn't back him when Carbs was fired as coach for one of his profanity laced outbursts. He will stop at nothing to get Ben removed as wrestling coach. He should cease this behavior immediately & focus on other BOE issues that are important to the citizens of Oxford, especially the children.
kathy johnson February 13, 2014 at 07:18 PM
Friends should back friends and no one should use their power to get someone fired for revenge. I remember when there was another former coach on the BOE that tried to get Coach Carb fired and suceeded into helping get Judy Palmer former Superintendant fired. Power corrupts and absolute power absolutely corrupts. Coach Blue should stop the law suit and coach Carb should keep his mouth shut in public especially in front of the athletes. You know one can make a case against anyone because no one is perfect. Money, power and ego corrupt.
wrestling parent 1 February 15, 2014 at 11:27 AM
There is a similar situation unfolding in Berlin between a group of coaches and the President of the Board of Ed. "Hartford Courant - Board To Hire Lawyer In Coaches' Harassment Complaint" http://articles.courant.com/2014-02-10/community/hc-berlin-coaches-complaint-0211-20140210_1_school-board-irene-matulis-chairman-gary-brochu http://www.newbritainherald.com/articles/2014/02/09/news/doc52f83dbb9967c590958648.txt It appears that there are allegations against a particular Berlin Board Member of abuse of power, harassment and intimidation. This all sounds eerily familiar does it not? The major difference I can see however is how the respective towns are dealing with it. In Berlin, the BOE immediately launched an investigation into the claims and hired an attorney to guide them in their investigation. Citizens of Berlin showed up at the BOE meeting to demand that the issue be put on the agenda and to inquire as to how the BOE would respond to the claims. In Oxford however, our BOE has elected to offer "no comment". There is no indication that the issue has been placed on the agenda. There is no indication that the BOE or the School administration intends to conduct their own investigations into the allegations. It also appears that no matter who is right or wrong, citizens of Oxford have not insisted that the Oxford BOE at least investigate and possibly offer a defense or path of actions regarding these claims. Would it not make sense for the BOE to investigate these claims in an attempt to circumvent a potential law suit? Is the bullying and intimidation in this case so prevalent that our elected and appointed officials now cannot even perform the most basic of their duties to the town? We should look to the good folks of Berlin for examples of leadership and stop succumbing to harassment and intimidation by elected officials. It is the apathy of our BOE and School administrators that will land this issue in a courtroom. If it was dealt with appropriately two years ago, we would not be in this mess. Once again, no matter who we might think is on the right side of this issue, we as citizens of Oxford should demand an investigation by the Board of Ed to put this matter to rest. Abuse of Authority by an elected official is a serious matter, especially in a small town such as Oxford. Why is there so much apathy on this? I fear that it is just a continuation of the pattern of intimidation that we should be investigating.
wrestling parent 1 February 15, 2014 at 12:17 PM
"Hartford Courant - Board To Hire Lawyer In Coaches' Harassment Complaint" http://articles.courant.com/2014-02-10/community/hc-berlin-coaches-complaint-0211-20140210_1_school-board-irene-matulis-chairman-gary-brochu
wrestling parent 1 February 15, 2014 at 12:19 PM
"New Britain Herald - Berlin coaches want probe of school board president" http://www.newbritainherald.com/articles/2014/02/09/news/doc52f83dbb9967c590958648
kathy johnson February 15, 2014 at 06:24 PM
Parent 1 I see your point but do you realize that what you want will be viewed as political and an attorney will cost the taxpayers money. So far this is between two coaches. The BOE has not fired coach Blue. I do not see a reason for the BOE to get involved. By the way the BOS can not demand anything from the BOE as they opperate by law on their own authority.
wrestling parent 1 February 15, 2014 at 07:31 PM
Kathy, I don't think you understand the issue here, or the context of the notice of claim. No one has claimed this is political. It is the case of an elected official abusing his position to carry out a personal vendetta. Not against a political foe, but rather a citizen who he somehow believes wronged him. It is not between two coaches It is between a coach and an elected BOE member. Although he calls himself Coach Carb, to my knowledge he is not a coach. Finally, I never suggested that the BOS demand anything from the BOE. I simply believe that the BOE should initiate a transparent investigation into the allegations as they have done in Berlin. I'm not sure why you think this is political. I am also not really concerned about how it is viewed, but rather making sure that this abuse of an elected position is stopped.
kathy johnson February 16, 2014 at 08:42 AM
Parent 1 How has Carb abused his power? What does a lawsuit by Coach Blue against Carb who happens have been elected to the BOE have to do with the BOE? When you speak of "perspective towns" in Oxford you are speaking of the BOS as they represent the governing body of our town. If you choose as a citizen to organize a grass roots effort to seek justice for Coach Blue by lobbying the BOE that is your right. The BOE has their own attorney as does the town. The BOE attorney may advise them not to launch an investigation. In the mean time do you not realize that there will also be citizens who will speak publically in favor of Carb? The question is will this help Coach Blue or hurt his case? Step back and look at the big picture and realize that this can easily turn into a political football between the Dems and the Republicans in Oxford? No good can come of it. Let Coach Blue's lawyer do his own investigation and defend his client.
kathy johnson February 16, 2014 at 08:53 AM
Correction "respective towns"
Bonnie February 16, 2014 at 09:26 AM
WOW!!! The involved parties in this latest argument between adults (I said adults, not grown-ups) have left this forum and have other grown-ups still upset over this issue. I'm sad to see that there's still argument about this, I personally believe it's a vendetta between 2 adults that neither wants to settle. I do not personally know either party, I know a family member of one of the parties (not personally I should say, rather I've seen posts on a social media site). I've seen posts made publicly by this person and if I were the parent if this person, I'd be very upset with my child and my child wouldn't be out of my site! If this child is anything like their parent, I'd have to say that the apple didn't fall too far from the branch. I know that kids are kids but you need to teach our children between what's right and what's wrong as well as what's theirs is theirs and what's someone else's is someone else's (meaning... You don't take what's not yours!)! I will not mention names, this person knows who they are! Once you post something on the Internet, it does not go away...no matter what you do, I doesn't go away!! It's there FOREVER!! I shake my head in disbelief thinking about the posts I saw for myself but I also thank myself that my children have not ever done anything like that one did! I'm sorry if this is confusing! @kathy johnson I'll give you a call this coming week, we will certainly get together! We've got lots to talk about!! I really hope everyone here can move on and let this all play out the way it's going to... The can of worms is open and we all knows what happens once it's open!
Peter Bunzl February 16, 2014 at 10:21 AM
Kathy Johnson you are a dear friend of mine but I have to say some of your posts just continue to amaze me. When you say "Step back and look at the big picture and realize that this can easily turn into a political football between the Dems and the Republicans in Oxford" just what are you chatting about. Why do you insist on making this whole debacle a possible political issue between political parties. I'm amazed at the continuing dialogue over this whole issue (myself included). Obviously Oxford residents have taken sides. Both parties have taken to publicly defending themselves. Friends and family members have come to their defense. When Coach Blue's daughter had to publicly defend her father via Patch I thought that as adults we would of realized that we had said enough and accept the inevitable that both parties to this pending suit would continue to settle this matter either in or out of court. But please Kathy stop bringing possible political situations and ramifications into this. Frankly shouldn't we all put this to rest already?
kathy johnson February 16, 2014 at 02:11 PM
Peter we are good friends. I am wondering why you feel that you need to comment on my posts. Frankly some of your posts amaze me considering that you chose to leave the ODTC. Why would you care what I have to say? This issue is not a possible political situation it is a political situation that was in the making for quite some time. Maybe I should have said it that it will make a political situation worse. If the Republicans in town defend Carb. what will the Dems do defend coach Blue? You have stood silent when some of your other good friends were thrown under the bus. Bravo! You are a loyal Democrat I can see that now the question is are you any more a loyal friend than me. I have decided to speak my mind. I must be over the target because I am taking flak. If I was realy your good friend a phone call insted of the patch might have been a better choice.
kathy johnson February 16, 2014 at 03:00 PM
Bonnie I am looking forward to your call. Seems I am banished to the land of the misfit toys by all the "normal" people.
Bonnie February 16, 2014 at 03:08 PM
@kathy Johnson I agree with you 100%, a good friend shouldn't be disagreeing with you publicly. If a good friend isn't going to support you and your opinion publicly then they shouldn't post anything with your name attached. I get it that people don't always agree, even the best of friends don't always agree but you don't go posting it for everyone to see! Especially when a "good friend" is going to throw you under a bus! I had a similar situation a while back, the only difference was my "good friend" didn't post their comment but rather she told other people via Facebook my last name! My last name was posted here on the patch and it turned out that the person they thought was making negative comments was not me! I sure caught a lot of crap from some people for comments I didn't make! The person that made the comments name was Bonnie but she didn't live in this state! She was just reading oxfords patch online and posted comments that I got blamed for! Even the editor here tried defending me but once someone doesn't agree with you, it doesn't matter who it is you catch the crap anyways!! Needless to say, that "good friend" of mine is no longer a friend!! I always say, if you are not 100% sure you should not mention names!! Hang in there Kathy! I support you for voicing your opinion, your thoughts are your thoughts and no one can take that away from you!!
Peter Bunzl February 16, 2014 at 03:48 PM
Hi Kathy as far as I know no identified Democrat or Republican has taken a party political position on this matter. When you turned it into a possible political matter then I felt compelled to respond to your suggestion. Please leave politics out of this matter. It is anything but that. When you make the suggestion publicly that party politics might eventually enter this unfortunate matter, I do get annoyed and frankly will continue to criticize your opinion about that. Sorry to disappoint both you and Bonnie on this one!
kathy johnson February 16, 2014 at 03:59 PM
Thats fine Peter. I shall continue speaking my mind as that is my right as it is yours. I do not think that I can single handedly make this a political issue. You afford me way too much power. The fact that my comments have moved you to comment in a public forum speaks political volumes to me as I know you were once Chair of the ODTC and ran on thr Dems ticket once or twice. By the time this issue is over you may find that you have dissappointed more people than me or Bonnie.
Peter Bunzl February 16, 2014 at 08:46 PM
Hi Kathy. Your right I am a past chair of the ODTC. That is the very reason I take umbrage with you bringing politics into this issue. Don't make this a possible political issue when it is not. This is between two individuals. People gave been voicing there opinions and taken sides. That is their right. Your bringing possible politics into this issue denigrates both political parties by making them suspect to playing petty politics over this dispute between two individuals.
kathy johnson February 17, 2014 at 08:02 AM
Yes and I am a past chair and a former first selectman. I take umbrage to the fact that you and others ran for cover. You all knew why we were falling apart but none of you had the nerve to say so. I call it blind loyalty. Both political parties have denigrated themselves already without my help. After what Krane just pulled with this ethics complaint and after so many of us who worked our buts off for the party have left I find it hard to believe your concern about anything I say or do. If you care so much about political parties especially the Dems step up and be chair again. Our past first selectman and now Krane has done more damage than me. All I did was tell the truth. Our town has suffered because of the poor Democratic leadership. I left for a good reason must I spell it out again. The fact that You find it so easy to take me to task is baffling. I have chosen to burn my bridges because I have no intention of turning back. I am my own person. Now if you feel that you want to continue this thread on this topic then go ahead bring it on and make my day.
The Truth February 19, 2014 at 08:54 PM
Let me get this straight the Board of Ed is aware of this clowns history? A bully is who we are allowing dictate policy. As a proud independant i have to say to the republican leadership this is an embarassement. Thrown off the football coaching staff yelling at kids and coachs. wow come on Temple get it straight this is a disaster. Please DO NOT USE TOWN FUNDS TO DEFEND HIM....
kathy johnson February 20, 2014 at 10:46 AM
If in fact the town has been named in a law suit it will have no choice but to spend taxpayer money to address the aligations. This is not George Temples falt. Maybe the law suit should not have been filed at all.
Jason Kessler February 21, 2014 at 10:12 AM
Is it no wonder that this town is such a mess politically? First you have a self-proclaimed “Coach”, who from what I can ascertain is coach of nothing, who is little more than an overgrown schoolboy/playground bully that the town elects to the board of education. Then you have Kathy Johnson who is continually reminding us not only here, but on other Patch boards around the state, that she once held the highest elected position in this town (a fact that I had to independently verify to believe) who is constantly airing her “dirty laundry” and doing so at the expense of the English language. What possessed you to call out a “close friend” in the Oxford Patch comment section instead of just picking up the phone as you suggested that Peter should have done? “go ahead bring it on and make my day.” Really? You a big Clint Eastwood fan? I understand that the “grammar police” are not very popular on message boards but as a former “highest elected official” in this town I think you should be held to a higher standard. Your last message really pushed me over the edge. “law suit”? (lawsuit). alications?? (allegations). Temples? (Temple’s) falt?? (fault). By continually reminding everyone of your previously elected position but not taking the time write like a former first selectman you are not only embarrassing yourself – but this town. “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.” (Multiple attributions including George Eliot, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, and Proverbs)
kathy johnson February 21, 2014 at 04:26 PM
Jason I thought I might point out an omission in one of your perfectly grammatically correct sentences which should read as follows. By continually reminding everyone of your previously elected position but not taking the time TO write like a former first selectman you are not only embarrassing yourself - but this town. Just thought I would take the time to point out your error. Maybe you should proof read before you post your comment. I am not going to argue with you over my grammar as you are correct I should be more careful. This will be my last post on this thread not because I care what you happen to think of me but because it is time to put this subject to rest. By the way you forgot this old saying "silence is golden".

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