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A soccer player with Down syndrome is suing the school where he made history

Caden Cox made Hocking College history in 2021 when he became the first known person with Down syndrome to play and score in a college football game. Today, he is suing the college, claiming he was a victim of discrimination, harassment, and assault.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday by his mother, Mary Cox, Kaden Cox accused a former supervisor of the student recreation center where he worked with “disability discrimination, physical abuse, and persistent verbal harassment.”

Caden Cox, now 23, burst onto the national sports scene in the fall of 2021, after kicking a field goal in the third quarter. He kicked three more that season, which earned him an edge on ESPN. A few months later, he creates a line of Jake Max clothing in school colours.

“They were saying he couldn’t even go to college and look around,” Mary Cox told the outlet at the time.

Mr. Cox also worked while attending Hawking College, a community college in Nelsonville, Ohio, where he was allegedly harassed and assaulted by his boss. Its president, Matthew Kamsko, is among the defendants named in the suit, along with Betty Young, the school’s president, a board of trustees and five unnamed university employees.

Kamsko, who resigned, was convicted in January of threatening Cox and sentenced to 30 days in jail.

The college and board said in an emailed statement that they would not comment on ongoing investigations or pending litigation, but would “cooperate with authorities.”

Mr. Young also declined to comment on the complaint filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

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“I am delighted that Hawking College was able to give Caden the opportunity to succeed as a student, student-athlete and now as an alumnus,” he said in an email, adding that the school “remains committed to all of its students.”

Mr. Kamsko repeatedly used “derogatory insults to people with Down syndrome,” disparaged Caden Cox’s abilities, once demanded a search of his phone and put his hand on Cox’s inappropriate manner, according to the complaint, and has been the subject of other harassment complaints.

In July 2021 and again in January 2022, Mary Cox, who also works at Hawking College, emailed her concerns about Mr. KeMoscow to school officials, but not only did his behavior get worse, according to the complaint, until Mr. KeMoscow followed Mr. Cox entered the bathroom and threatened him with a knife.

Cadyn Cox obtained a protective order against Mr. Kamosko in May 2022, but the harassment made him anxious and prevented him from going on campus, according to the complaint, and he got angry whenever he saw a red car that looked like Mr. Kamosko’s. .

The lawsuit blames “willful indifference” on the part of Mr Young and other Hocking employees for the trauma Caden Cox suffered at the hands of Mr Kmosko, for which he has demanded damages and punishment.

He also accuses the Foundation of retaliation, alleging that he refused two graduation awards to Mr Cox that he had been promised after attorneys representing Cox’s family addressed the Foundation’s management, in early December, with a letter detailing their allegations.

After graduating from Hawking College last year, Mr. Cox has been involved in football coaching at Texas A&M University and plans to enroll at Ohio State College. He is expected to attend Ohio State University in the fall for a Certificate Program for Students with Disabilities.

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“The last thing we wanted was a trial. This college has played a major role in our lives,” Mary Cox said in a statement sent by an attorney.

“Caden had a great experience before this happened. We just felt like our complaints to the admins got nowhere.”I Cox. “We really hope that this will lead to a change in the way bullying is dealt with for all at-risk students in the school.”

This article was published in The New York Times.