Editor's Note: This article has been updated with comments from Yorktown Superintendent Dr. Ralph Napolitano.
SOMERS, N.Y. – Clarifying earlier statements made about the alleged locker room incident involving the Yorktown varsity boys and Somers varsity girls lacrosse teams on May 25, Somers Superintendent Dr. Raymond Blanch on Thursday said he did not intend to implicate the entire Yorktown boys lacrosse team and looks forward to maintaining a positive relationship with the neighboring school district.
On Tuesday, Blanch issued statements—to the media and to parents of the girls lacrosse team—condemning the alleged actions by members of the Yorktown boys lacrosse team. In one of the statements, he said the Section 1 girls lacrosse championship game between Yorktown and Somers was “marred by the rude and disrespectful behavior of certain students.”
Tipped off by an anonymous letter sent to Yorktown and Somers administrators six days after the game, the districts began their own investigations in an attempt to find out what took place.
After conversations with members of the Somers girls team, Blanch said it was concluded that members of the Somers girls lacrosse team were preparing for the game in the Yorktown boys locker room when members of the Yorktown boys lacrosse team entered and “engaged in harassing and intimidating behavior,” which caused the girls lacrosse students to leave, and relocate to a different locker room.
Since his initial statements, Blanch said, it has become clear that members of the Yorktown boys team “entered the boys locker room unaware that the Somers girls lacrosse team was using the locker room.” He said the district’s investigation also indicates there was no evidence of “sexual harassment,” which, he said, is a rumor that has been introduced on social media.
“To the extent that there may be individual instances of inappropriate remarks or conduct uncovered, Yorktown Superintendent [Dr. Ralph] Napolitano and I are in agreement to fulfill the due process obligations of each school district and to be cooperative in sharing information,” Blanch said.
Napolitano said in a statement to Yorktown News that he and the Yorktown administration were taking the incident “very seriously.” He emphasized that for six days after the game, no incident or problem was communicated to Yorktown administrators.
Once they received the anonymous letter on June 1, he said, Yorktown Athletic Director Fio Nardone immediately called the Somers school district to discuss the allegations. Though administrators from both districts continued to have conversations about the incident, Somers released a statement to the community and media before Yorktown’s own investigation was concluded, Napolitano said.
Blanch, in his latest statement, said he jumped the gun.
“As the superintendent of Somers schools, I would like to say that in hindsight, I did not provide the Yorktown administration with the opportunity to fully complete their internal fact-finding related to the incident before I communicated the information from our fact-finding to the Somers community,” Blanch said. “In no way was it my intention to implicate the entire Yorktown boys lacrosse team.”
Napolitano said he is looking forward to continuing a positive relationship with Somers.
"Our goal is to ensure all students are respectful, responsible and safe at all times and in all places," Napolitano said. "I am happy to note that Dr. Blanch's continued investigation brought him to same place our internal investigation brought us to at this time. That is, there was no evidence of harassment or intimidation by the group of Yorktown boys lacrosse players who entered their own locker room at Yorktown High School on May 25. We are relieved to hear that it was never Dr. Blanch’s intention to implicate the entire Yorktown boys lacrosse team without substantiated evidence. When the fact finding process is allowed to work, it always prevails."
The Yorktown boys lacrosse team on Wednesday defeated Garden City, 5-4, in the NYSPHSAA Class B semifinal. The Huskers are set to play for the state championship this Saturday in Rochester.