Radio Rant Leads to Lawsuit

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WILLIAMSPORT -- A lawsuit has been filed against a sports radio host by a former high school basketball coach in Lycoming County.

The former coach claims he's being defamed, but is what the host said a justifiable warning to parents or just retaliation for a business deal that went bad?

The lawsuit was filed by Darrick Dixon, a former Williamsport Area High School basketball star, coach, and current community leader and businessman.

But radio station owner and host Todd Bartley believes Dixon should be known for an incident against a 14-year-old girl in 2001.

February 1 at ESPN 1050 radio in downtown Williamsport, host Todd Bartley launched into a monologue directed at former Williamsport Area High School girls basketball coach Darrick Dixon.

"He betrayed the trust of one of his very own student athletes. And now he's right back to doing what he's been doing," said Bartley.

In 2001, Dixon was 23, and head coach of the Williamsport High School girls basketball team. He was charged with having sex with a 14-year-old player.

A year later, he pleaded no contest to statutory sexual assault, a charge that did not require him to register as a sex offender after he served 11 months in jail.

These days, Dixon goes by the name Darrick Rizzo. He spends time in high school gyms, streaming sporting events on his website, and making videos for student athletes looking for scholarships.

"Why is this individual, in the post-Jerry Sandusky era, walking around local schools?" Bartley asked.

Dixon is answering with a lawsuit against Bartley, his radio station, and ESPN claiming defamation and five other civil counts .

"They're not free to make up complete false statements," said Dixon's attorney Steve Silver. "And insinuate that he's still a threat and he's still having criminal contact with young girls."

Dixon's friends say he's paid his debt to society.

"I think it is more of a personal issue, a personal vendetta rather than a safety concern," said Meghan Rogers of Williamsport.

"He's been great to this community. He's helped this community tremendously," said Grady Walker of Hughesville.

But not all agree.

Sources tell Newswatch 16 that a handful of parents in Williamsport and in districts around Lycoming County have called administrators, demanding Darrick Dixon be banned from athletic practices and games.

Some parents near Harrisburg feel the same way.

Central Dauphin East High School girls basketball coach resigned Wednesday. Parents complained he brought Dixon to a practice earlier this year to tutor female players.

"It's putting a lot of teachers, coaches, administrators, and members of the community in a very tough position when he shows up," Bartley said.

Dixon's lawyer argues Todd Bartley is out for revenge.

Bartley did play-by-play for two games that were streamed on Dixon's website. But that partnership in 2013 came to a quick end and Dixon's lawyer says Bartley is still upset about it.

But during his radio monologue last month, Bartley said he's known of Dixon's record since 2007.

"If you knew about it and it bothered you, and you claim this whole fiasco is about public safety, protecting the kids, then why did you do it for nine years?" Silver asked.

Silver adds that Darrick Dixon has been out of jail for 13 years, and is legally permitted to come and go at athletic contests.

Silver adds that Dixon has a clean record since he got out of jail in 2003.

ESPN and ABC Radio, both named as defendants with Bartley, had no comment on Dixon's lawsuit.

18 comments

  • Conroy

    Tired of people always believing that an older person having sex with a younger person is criminal, regardless of circumstances. People will call a 17 year old a day away from 18 having sex with and older person an atrocity. A day later it’s just fine. If it’s consensual it’s consensual . thinking anyone under the age of 18 is “to young and stupid to know better” is what’s wrong. As someone who’s recently turned 18 I know the patronization older people give youth is beyond frustrating.

    I know no one will agree and this will be downvoted like crazy but it’s the truth. You people who love to shame anyone who doesn’t fit your morals will soon be looked at as a puritanical old guard. Like we look at people from the middle ages.

  • Concerned Citizen

    I went to school with the girl that was involved in this case, Her father was a teacher also. He was devastated when this happened. From what I heard back then it happened on more than one occasion, and though it doesn’t excuse his conduct with a then 14 yr-old minor, she was not a victim in this case, meaning she wasn’t innocent, most likely provoking his interest and going along with the sexual misconduct.

    My sister-in-law is a coach for the South Williamsport Cheerleaders and I remember a few years ago I was helping out at one of their Williamsport-South Williamsport competitions at WAHS and I saw him walking around the place….I said to my wife, do they know who that guy is and his history? I couldn’t imagine why he was there surrounded by all those teenage cheerleaders like c’mon. I understand exactly what parents feel when they have that dude around their children….Regardless of the girl’s action involved in his case, he didn’t have a strong enough will to refrain from getting involved with her…..who’s to say what would happen in a similar case nowadays….

    What I really don’t understand is how he got away with NOT having to register as a sex offender!?!? HOW!?!??! As far as Pennsylvania law is concerned, I’m pretty sure the age of consent is 16…not 14.

    • Carlos

      Concerned Citizen
      They do not place victims on lists because they seduce adults, they place–predators there because they are the ones that first erode a young girls’ emotional defence’s, then steal their virtue..

      It is repugnant to believe otherwise..

      Plus, you have no proof, AND the peripheral stories regarding his sexual appetites is long and illustrious in town (since you grew up here) indicates he’s the one that incited this..

      Why is he not on the list?..That’s simple — prosecutorial and judicial neglect and malfeasance..

  • Sam

    would they allow pedophiles to own, operate or work at a day care.
    Then he should not be allowed to be in known contact with students of any age.
    Same as Sandusky

  • Behind the story

    I’m really surprised this guy is allowed to work around children/teens I remember when he originally was charged with the crime even though he didn’t have to register I went to school with the said victim and the hype it cause between coaching staff and the Williamsport school district its very funny no one is talking especially the girls family who took sports very seriously

  • Dan

    Carlos is spot on.
    Don’t be on the wrong side of this one, this will go national and like his supporters and all of the PC administrators that knew yet allowed it, you will regret it.

  • Mona Lisa

    Really? 11 months? Yet others that have teen porn talking to minors on the computer or sexual abuse charges (no sex ) get years have to go through intense counseling have to register on Meghan’s law I don’t understand why he gets special treatment then is allowed to continue to coach or help coach minors???

  • Taco Salad

    If you’ve ever spent any time listening to Todd Bartley on the radio, you’ll recognize the familiar sound of personal grudges. He clings to them desperately and will take over other shows to air his laundry.
    The schools probably should drop association with this man. But no doubt Bartley is obsessed with his demise.

    • Carlos Saldivia

      What’s the grudge?..

      While you’re at it maybe you can inform us why this man should have access to minors in schools, you know, your best guess why..

      • Taco Salad

        I guess we’ll find out what the grudge is. Possibly the bad business deal the article mentioned. Possibly something else.
        Bartley has done it before. My favorite was when he spent literally 3 straight hours whining about the failed Outlaws hockey season. They absolutely ripped the city off, but he tried to act like some kind of news reporter- which he is definitely not- and brought up some names that had absolutely nothing to do with that failed business operation. He needs to stick to reading scores and repeating what he hears on the real ESPN.

        And Dixon probably shouldn’t have an association with the schools. But it’s the school’s burden to make sure its volunteers and employees are vetted. If we should be outraged at anyone in this, it’s the districts. Where is the call for their accountability?
        From a legal standpoint, this man served his time and is not on the offender registry (I also question why, but he’s not). So he’s got freedom of association and has every right to conduct business wherever he can. It’s the school’s job to make sure he doesn’t do it there.
        I have to have 3 different clearances to volunteer at my daughter’s preschool for 2 hours once a month, the districts damn well better have them on file for this man.

      • Carlos

        It’s pretty clear the grudge is yours–with Todd Bartley..

        “Dixon probably shouldn’t have an association with the schools. ” – Probably?!?..

        AND you think it’s the schools’ burden to protect them from the determination of guys like him to keep your daughter protected?..That’s how you think it works?..

        Please, we’ll do you a solid and fight this for you and your young daughter, but don’t help us by commenting this nonsense..

      • Taco Salad

        “From a legal standpoint, this man served his time and is not on the offender registry (I also question why, but he’s not). So he’s got freedom of association and has every right to conduct business wherever he can. It’s the school’s job to make sure he doesn’t do it there.”

        Do you disagree that legally this man is allowed free association and it should be the districts’ job to keep him away?

        And as for Bartley- I could care less. I think he’s a drama queen. So I don’t listen to his little operation anymore.

Comments are closed.