Teen Suing Former High School Coaches for Millions for Violating Religious Beliefs by Forcing Him to Eat Pizza

An Ohio high school football player is suing his former coaches and school district for allegedly forcing him to eat pepporoni pizza despite his religious beliefs.

The Associated Press reports the former Canton McKinley High School athlete has filed a federal civil rights suit that alleges his religious freedom and constitutional rights were violated. 

As a member of the Hebrew Israelite religious faith, the athlete claims he informed coaches he doesn’t eat pork or pork residue. Despite this, he alleges the coaching staff ordered him to eat pizza covered with pepperoni grease as punishment for missing an offseason workout.

Back in July, the head football coach at Canton McKinley High School and six other coaches were fired after the allegations first arose. The Canton City Board of Education voted unanimously to not renew their coaching contracts after the teen’s parent brought the incident to light.

From there, the seven coaches sued the teen’s parent, his attorney, school officials and others for defamation.

“The coaches say the player chose to remove pepperoni and eat the pizza rather than an alternative food,” the AP reported. “They weren’t aware it violated his religious belief.”

Peter Pattakos, an attorney representing the coaches, told The Repository newspaper of Canton, “When this story first broke last spring, we immediately came forward with evidence – including statements from more than a dozen eyewitnesses – showing that the wild accusations that the coaches forced (the player) to eat pizza against his religion were false and defamatory.”

Meanwhile, Canton City School District Superintendent Jeff Talbert said that the school board will address the family’s “meritless” claims through the legal process.

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