A former head football coach is seeking damages from Hartford's new superintendent, wants alleged defamatory statements retracted and his old job back as the head of the Bulkeley bulldogs, according to the lawsuit filed.
Pablo Ortiz's attorney said the goal is to get him back in the game and to clear his name after allegations of abuse that were never substantiated, according to the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF).
Negligence, emotional distress, libel and slander: All words outlined in the lawsuit filed on behalf of Ortiz, of Newington.
"I was devastated," Ortiz told NBC Connecticut at a press conference with his union representation back in May.
The defamation lawsuit was filed for Ortiz against Hartford Superintendent of Schools Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez last March, the superintendent told the Troubleshooters,
"We're now holding people accountable and this is part of our changing of the culture," Torres-Rodriguez stated.
NBC Connecticut was cited in the suit, which stated the superintendent spoke to the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters without finishing a "thorough investigation, giving Ortiz an opportunity to defend himself or waiting for DCF findings into allegations of abuse among players."
NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters previously reported on a letter and emails sent by assistant coaches and players outlining suspected abuse.
"He disrespected one of my teammates," one past player stated last spring.
Another student, Domaine Edwards, said, "I knew he'd never physically or emotionally abuse any players."
In the end, state officials cleared Ortiz of wrongdoing.
Ortiz's complaint states he suffered anxiety, anger, loss of wages and his "impeccable reputation as a coach, good human being, and as a DCF employee."
The lawsuit also calls the superintendent's actions malicious, with a desire to get credit for changing school culture, being permanently hired and intentionally, wrongfully scapegoating Ortiz.
"Was I perfect? No. Did I get upset? Yes. But I would never demean or put a young man down," Ortiz reiterated to NBC Connecticut in May.
Ortiz said he doesn't have it in his "DNA" to verbally or physically abuse a player.
A spokesman for Hartford Public Schools said they can't comment on pending legal matters.