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Bergen Catholic coach files countersuit against former wrestler

Bergen Catholic coach David Bell coaching at the Doc Buchanan Invitational (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

Nearly six months after a former Bergen Catholic High School wrestler sued head coach David Bell of the nationally-ranked program over alleged sexual and verbal harassment -- and one month after a judge dismissed the most explosive charges of that lawsuit -- coach Bell filed an answer and cross-claim Friday against his accuser.

In an 11-page complaint, Bell accuses former Bergen Catholic wrestler Anthony Asatrian, now 18, of negligence, false complaint of unprofessional conduct, intentional infliction of emotional distress and other acts, NorthJersey.com reported Friday.

Asatrian -- a two-time district champion for the program ranked No. 2 in the nation by InterMat last season -- had alleged in his lawsuit back in April that he was sexually abused, sexually assaulted, and sexually harassed during his nearly three years as a wrestler at Bergen Catholic. However, local Bergen County prosecutors found no evidence to file criminal charges against coach Bell ... and, just last month, a judge had dropped all but the least serious allegations from Asatrian's lawsuit against the long-time coach.

Another New Jersey media outlet -- NJ.com -- provided some details on the wrestler's father and his involvement with his son Anthony's wrestling career.

"Over the course of the 57-page document, obtained by NJ Advance Media, Bell's claim paints Asatrian's father, Harry, as an overzealous sports parent who at times acted aggressively toward the coach, threatened to transfer his son to a rival high school and made anti-Semitic and racially charged comments in front of wrestlers and coaches."

"The claim also alleges Harry Asatrian meddled to the point that he had been caught 'sneaking in the locker room to switch and manipulate the scales' in an effort to help his son make weight for a wrestle-off against a teammate with a spot in the starting lineup at stake."

In an August interview with NorthJersey.com, Anthony Asatrian -- slated to wrestle this fall as a senior at Paramus High School -- said Bell never actually molested him but at times had expressed how much he "loved him" and sometimes asked to wrestle with him, hug him and touch his hair.

"Bell is widely regarded as one of the best and most influential wrestling coaches in the United States," according to NJ.com. The media website for the Newark Star-Ledger and other newspapers in the Garden State pointed out that, with Bell at the helm, Bergen Catholic won its seventh straight NJSIAA team title during the 2017-18 season and defeated five teams ranked in the top 10 nationally.

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