Judge seals case against Blazier, Bellwood-Antis
Former coach accused of child sexual assault
HOLLIDAYSBURG — Blair County Judge Timothy M. Sullivan has temporarily sealed a developing civil court case against the Bellwood-Antis School District and a former wrestling coach facing child sexual assault charges.
Sullivan, in an order signed Friday, said the seal will be subject to further review in the near future.
As of Friday, no lawsuit has been filed, but one is expected on behalf of an alleged assault victim and his father.
In a document the Altoona Mirror obtained before Sullivan rendered the order sealing the case, Indiana attorney Bryan S. Neiderhiser advised that a pending lawsuit will subject his clients to embarrassment and publicity due to the alleged unwanted sexual assaults by former school wrestling coach Ryan L. Blazier.
State police at Hollidaysburg charged Blazier a year ago with several sexual assault offenses, including incidents involving two boys on school grounds. While Blazier has not been convicted of any charges, that factor may or may not play a role in the pending civil court case, which puts the school district and select personnel into a defensive position. That could be costly for the district’s insurance provider and/or district taxpayers.
The Mirror maintains that this pending civil court case file, based on constitutional and common law principles, should be available for public inspection. Federal and state constitutions require courts to operate openly and to use the least restrictive means for shielding select information from the public, media law counsel Melissa Melewsky recently told the Mirror.
Sullivan’s ruling also allows the alleged victim and his father to avoid use of their names in the lawsuit and to be known as John A. Doe and John B. Doe.
Some courts, Melewsky said, have resorted to the use of initials to reference minors in court cases and to protect them from potential harm.
The Mirror generally avoids publishing the names of victims.