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iStock(BUENA, N.J.) -- A New Jersey referee who forced a black teenager to cut his dreadlocks or forfeit a wrestling match was suspended on Wednesday, concluding a months-long racial bias investigation.

The white referee at the center of the December incident was suspended from the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association for two years and other officials were ordered to undergo anti-bias training to "help prevent such discrimination in the future," according to the state's attorney general.

Video of the incident sparked outrage online, showing Andrew Johnson -- a 16-year-old wrestler at South Jersey's Buena Regional High School -- wincing as a gloved staff member chopped his locs on the mat. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy even tweeted about the video when it surfaced, saying "no student should have to needlessly choose between his or her identity & playing sports."

Johnson was wearing his usual headgear and covering, but the referee said it was not in compliance with rules by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association.

"Student athletes should be able to compete with each other on a level playing field," said New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a statement Wednesday. "Racial discrimination in the enforcement of the rules of any sport is inconsistent with the spirit of fair play."

He said the ruling, handed down by his office's civil rights division, "makes it less likely that any student athlete will have to endure discrimination that not only undermines fair competition but also violates our state laws."

Grewal's office also issued new "Guidance on Race Discrimination Based on Hairstyle" to explain how treating someone differently based on a hairstyle could violate the state's anti-discrimination laws, according to the statement.

The guidance states that discrimination on the basis of race includes discrimination based on a trait "inextricably intertwined with or closely associated with race," including hairstyle. It also clarifies that policies that ban, limit or restrict hairstyles closely associated with being black or having black ancestry -- including twists and locs -- may violate New Jersey law, the statement said.

The office did not release the referee's name in its statement, but ABC's Philadelphia affiliate WPVI-TV identified him as Anthony Maloney, who it said was previously accused of calling a fellow referee the N-word during an argument in 2016.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Author: Dana Schaeffer
Posted: September 18, 2019, 9:57 pm

ccahill/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Reports of sexual abuse and misconduct rose 55% from a year ago, according to a national Olympic sports oversight center.

The U.S. Center for SafeSport, founded by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee in 2017 to investigate sex-abuse claims in Olympic sports, said it receives about 239 reports a month, compared with 154 during an average month in 2018, a spokesperson confirmed to ABC News Tuesday.

It currently has 1,290 open cases, with 2,237 that have been closed since its inception in March 2017, underscoring its need for more funding and better staffing, officials said.

In the most-prominent case of sexual abuse, former U.S. gymnastics trainer Larry Nassar pleaded guilty to sexually abusing gymnasts under his medical care over many years. Dozens of other high-profile gymnasts, including Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney, all former Olympic gold medalists, also accused him of abuse.

He was sentenced last year to 40 to 175 years in jail in just one case, but was also sentenced to jail for possession of child pornography.

The case has prompted firings, resignations and changes across the U.S. Olympic Committee and safeguards such as SafeSport.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Author: JTP
Posted: September 18, 2019, 10:48 am

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