Belchertown High School student charged in alleged bathroom assault 

  • Belchertown High School GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 1/30/2019 11:06:59 PM

BELCHERTOWN — A Belchertown High School senior has been arraigned on an assault and battery charge after he allegedly struck a student repeatedly in a school bathroom, breaking his jaw and causing other serious injuries, according to court documents.

A bystander’s cellphone video allegedly shows that Brendan D. Conroy, 18, of Belchertown, knocked the victim over, punched him repeatedly and stomped his head to the ground with his knee on Jan. 18, according to court documents. Conroy was charged with assault and battery (serious bodily injury) and pleaded not guilty to the charge at his Jan. 22 arraignment in Eastern Hampshire District Court.

The students involved in the incident are currently not in school, according to Superintendent Karol Coffin.

Court documents state that a school nurse called the police department on Jan. 18 asking for an ambulance for a student who had been punched in the face and was having difficulty swallowing. The victim required treatment for a broken jaw, lost a tooth and was also having difficulty speaking, according to a report by School Resource Officer Jason Krol of the Belchertown Police, filed in court.

Conroy was initially jailed before being released Jan. 22 on condition that he avoid contact with the alleged victim and witnesses, stay 100 yards away from the alleged victim and witnesses outside the school building or stay 10 yards away inside of the school.

Coffin said she could not disclose specific consequences for any of the students involved, including whether Conroy, a member of the school’s varsity hockey team, will be able to return to the team. She added that no students are allowed to participate in sports or after-school activities while they are not in school.

“When students return there’s always a re-entry plan,” Coffin said. “There may be continuing restrictions or there may not.”

Thomas Kokonowski, Conroy’s attorney, said in a statement sent to the Gazette that he and his client are “very disappointed in the initial response of both the Commonwealth and the school.”

“My client was arrested and jailed based on, what in my opinion, was an incomplete investigation, at that time, that created hysteria which then caused him to be held for a ‘dangerousness hearing’ over the long weekend,” Kokonowski said.

According to Kokonowski, police did not gather three witness statements that “corroborate our defense” until Saturday, the day after the incident.

“Unfortunately, nobody went to the jail to let Mr. Conroy go home,” Kokonowski said. “He had to wait until Tuesday, where, when faced with the evidence of what actually happened, the Commonwealth agreed that the case was not in need of a dangerousness hearing ... We will be asking for even more evidence in the coming weeks.”

Coffin said that students have the opportunity to talk about the incident in the school’s advisory program, which assigns students into small groups that meet throughout their four years at the school and serve as a “safe space for students to have difficult conversations.”

“The goal is always to look for how can we prevent these things from happening in the first place,” Coffin said, “and what do we need to do to help all of our students feel everyone belongs because the key is for everyone to feel valued.”

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.


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