Ref who told Buena wrestler to cut dreads alleges defamation

SICKLERVILLE, N.J. -- A referee who was heavily criticized for telling a New Jersey high school wrestler to cut his dreadlocks or forfeit his match has taken a step toward filing a defamation 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.

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N.J. high school wrestler forced to cut locks or forfeit match. Walter Perez reports during Action News at 5 p.m. on December 22, 2018.

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

A widely circulated video showed the wrestler's hair being haphazardly cut on the sidelines.

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A New Jersey high school wrestler forced to cut locks or forfeit match. Watch video from the incident.

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

The legal claim preserves Maloney's right to a possible lawsuit.

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