Staples coach dropped from web roster; 'witch hunt' denounced by principal
The coach accused of providing Staples High School freshman football players access to a pornographic website has been removed from the coaching staff roster on the Wreckers' website.
Mike Pickering, who had been an assistant coach for the freshman football team for nine seasons, was charged by Westport police Thursday with three counts of risk of injury to a minor. In lodging the felony charges, police said Pickering provided several players with an access number to a pornographic website.
As of Saturday morning, Pickering's photograph and short biography is no longer listed on the coaching staff, as it was earlier in week, of the Wreckers' football coaching staff: http://wreckersfootball.com/Page.asp?n=46407&snid=jNM%40\2D%3FV&org=wreckersfootball.com
Westport school officials, in announcing the investigation into the allegations against Pickering on Wednesday, said he had been "removed" both from this coaching position and his full-time job as an HVAC technician on the Staples maintenance staff. Since then, however, they have refused to say whether Pickering has been suspended or fired.
Pickering's public banishment from the Staples coaching ranks comes a day after Staples High School Principal John Dodig, who has refused to make any public statements since the scandal broke Wednesday, read a statement to the student body on Friday that criticizes comments made on a Facebook page -- Free Pick -- posted in support of Pickering after his Thursday arrest. Here's the address to that page: http://www.facebook.com/groups/114735445306837
As first reported Friday morning by the Westport News -- http://www.westport-news.com/news/article/Free-Pick-Facebook-page-urges-support-for-2276052.php -- the page has attracted hundreds of members, most of them posting comments in support of Pickering. Many of those comments come from players he has coached in football and lacrosse.
However, some of the comments are both critical and somewhat threatening in regard to those who may have reported the incident or of Pickering himself.
Dodig, calling the incident "unfortunate" for bringing "negative attention to this fine school I love," faulted many of the comments for "trash talk" that he said could come back to haunt the commenters years in the future when they try to find a job.
He also criticized what he said is "a theme developing which is to find the people who brought this situation to light and do them harm. For those of you who have read `The Crucible' in your English class, you know what a witch hunt that can turn into. That is what I am afraid is beginning to happen."