Niagara Gazette

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April 29, 2008

TUESDAY: Two Wilson coaches charged with child endangerment (9:54 p.m.)

WILSON — Two Wilson School District baseball coaches were charged Tuesday with endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, in connection with an alleged assault of at least one student by three other students April 17 on a school bus. The alleged incident has resulted in the arrest of three students on felony sexual abuse charges and in the cancellation of the baseball season.

William Atlas, the junior varsity baseball coach, and Thomas J. Baia, the varsity baseball coach, were both charged by New York State Police. According to state trooper Rebecca Gibbons, the men were called by police and cooperated.

“They came to the station, were processed, and given appearance tickets,” Gibbons said.

Atlas, 35, is a physical education teacher at Thomas Marks Elementary School in Wilson and Baia, 40, also of Wilson, is a math teacher at Wilson Middle School.

Gibbons added that the investigation regarding the alleged assault case was still ongoing. She could not confirm a number of victims, but said there were more than one victim of the alleged assault that reportedly took place between Wilson baseball players on a bus.

Lt. Richard Allen of the state police confirmed Atlas and Baia each were charged with endangering the welfare of a child.

“We received enough information to determine the charges were warranted,” Allen said, when asked what prompted the arrest.

He confirmed the two coaches were on the bus. Gibbons could not confirm where on the bus the coaches were. They were given appearance tickets, were released without bail and are scheduled to appear at 7 p.m., May 8 in Wilson Town Court, according to the police report.

Wilson Superintendent Michael Wendt said when the district found out Atlas and Baia were arrested, the district immediately suspended them with pay. The district will continue working with state police on the investigation.

“We will continue to take cues from the police and work with them and not interfere,” Wendt said.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick

at 439-9222, ext. 6241.

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