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Miss. High School Basketball Players Sue Coach Over Alleged Whippings

JACKSON, Miss. -- Three Murrah High School basketball players have sued their coach and the school system over alleged whippings.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in federal court in Jackson by attorney Lisa Ross.

Ross contends that a video clip shows a basketball player bent over as a man swings a belt, hitting him three times. The video was made available to Jackson media outlets.

Ross says the man in the video, which was recorded on a cell phone, is boys basketball coach Marlon Dorsey.

In the lawsuit, which gives only one side of the legal argument, the players contend they were physically and verbally abused by the coach.

Dorsey, who has admitted to whipping players, has been on leave since late October. On Oct. 28, school and district officials met with about 30 parents about the matter, but there has been no official word from JPS on Dorsey's status.

A statement from the school district says the personnel matter cannot be discussed "because of employee confidentiality rights."

Corporal punishment has been banned in Jackson Public Schools since 1991. District policy says violation of that rule is punishable by disciplinary action such as suspension without pay and termination.

The lawsuit alleges a violation of the basketball players' constitutional rights, and accuses the defendants of invasion of privacy and infliction of emotional distress. The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

In a statement given to The Clarion-Ledger earlier, Dorsey said, "I took it upon myself to save these young men from the destruction of self and what society has accepted and become silent to the issues our students are facing on a daily basis. I am deeply remorseful of my actions to help our students."

In a letter addressed to parents and others, Dorsey said the punishment was issued for a variety of reasons, including disrespecting teachers, stealing cell phones, leaving campus without permission, being late for class and not following the dress code.

Dorsey told the newspaper that he has been suspended with pay.

This is Dorsey's first year as head coach at Murrah; he was an assistant coach last year.