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Archive for Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Judge to hear gag motion in military school suit

March 20, 2012, 8:59 a.m. Updated March 21, 2012, 12:33 a.m.

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— A federal judge declined Tuesday to impose a gag order in a lawsuit accusing a Kansas military school of allowing older students to discipline younger ones and fostering a culture of abuse.

Lawyers for St. John’s Military School had sought to bar parties involved in the case from talking publicly after an attorney for the plaintiffs granted media interviews soon after filing the lawsuit this month. The plaintiffs, the parents of four former cadets, had called the request an attempt by the school to violate their free-speech rights.

St. John’s attorney Derek Johannsen told U.S. District Judge John Lungstrum the motion was intended to keep the lawsuit from being tried in “a public forum.”

“This case has drawn a significant amount of media attention already,” Johannsen said.

But Lungstrum denied the motion.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Dan Zmijewski, meanwhile, said he planned to file a motion to prevent St. John’s students from purging their Facebook pages of anything that might be related to the plaintiffs’ claims.

Court records show that since 2006, the military-style boarding school in Salina has settled nine lawsuits filed by parents, including one last year in which a federal judge found the school knew about the potential for hazing yet allowed higher-ranking cadets to discipline students.

The school has denied the claims.

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