UPDATE, Jan. 18, 12:14pm
In a statement released today, the New Canaan Lacrosse Association said the issues raised in a suit filed by Dr. Claudia Harris (referred to in the letter as Dr. Sickinger), is not about discrimination or safety of players, but a vehicle to, "use these issues as a platform for her personal gain" and "to trivialize them and all those who fight legitimately to address these problems in youth sports."
The letter says the NCLA has "gone to great lengths to provide equal access to boys and girls," and to "foster the sport of lacrosse in a mentally and physically safe and secure environment."
"We on the Board of the NCLA welcome and look forward to the opportunity to set the record straight and bring this matter to a conclusion. Because we believe that the kids' best interest is served by speedy resolution rather than prolonged lititgation, our offer to meet with Dr. Sickinger, Mr. Harris and a neutral mediator, to resolve issues and move forward, remains open," the letter says.
The complete statement is attached.
Saying girls in the 's program receive inferior training, practice opportunities, equipment, and funding when compared to the boys, a town woman has filed a lawsuit against the NCLA claiming discrimination under Title IX.
Dr. Claudia Harris, whose daughter is in the program, says in a suit filed Dec. 9 in state Superior Court in Stamford that her Title IX rights were violated when she was removed as a coach and board member.
Harris on Thursday told Patch that she brought suit based on "longtime concerns about the inequity of the girls lacrosse experience as opposed to the boys."
She added that when she tried to bring her concerns to those inside the organization, "What I experienced, to my great surprise, is that I ultimately hit a brick wall." She said NCLA board members "sought to purge me rather than address these concerns."
A psychiatrist, Harris says she was coaching a fifth-grade team prior to her dismissal in August 2010. She alleges that an assistant coach on the team pressured her to give playing time to his own daughter and that girl's friends.
According to Harris' civil complaint, concerns brought to board members went unaddressed, and when she persisted, she was dismissed as a coach and ultimately removed from the board.
NCLA is run by a "very small group who've been involved in this group for a long time and believe they're entitled to run this organization the way they see fit," Harris said.
Kevin Black, Harris' attorney, said Thursday that this action against a nonprofit sports youth program "is the first one of its kind that I have been able to find."
"I think you will see this as maybe being a new frontier for Title IX as people come to understand the incredible power and authority being wielded by these programs," Black said.
An attorney for the NCLA, Robert Noonan, responded to a request for comment with a statement, which said in part: "This is the second law suit filed as a result of a vote by the New Canaan Lacrosse Association Board of Directors to remove Dr. Harris from the NCLA Board. As with the first lawsuit ... this lawsuit is without merit. The NCLA looks forward to the court ruling accordingly."
Named as defendants in addition to the NCLA are board members Marshall Jenkins, Leo Karl III, Garth Appelt, Jon Sprole, Mary Cuoco, Ian Hobbs, Steve Kraus, Michael Persky, Doug Richardson, Tom Albertson and Richard Boland.