Was She or Wasn’t She? Anatomy of a North Andover
Student’s Story Embroiled in National Controversy
October 23, 2013
Despite emphatic claims by famed attorney Wendy Murphy, and a retraction of part of yesterday’s Valley Patriot story, the Eagle Tribune is now reporting that North Andover student Erin Cox was summonsed and slated to be in court for possession of alcohol yesterday in connection with an underage drinking party in Boxford earlier this month.
Cox claims she was only at the drinking party to pick up a friend who was too drunk to drive. North Andover School Officials suspended Cox from the Volleyball Team for five games and stripped her of her captaincy. The story wet viral on Fox News and other national media outlets.
North Andover Patch also reported previously that Cox was summonsed: Erin Cox’s Attorney: We’re Filing Suit, School Lawyer Lied
Attorney Murphy steadfastly maintains in email statements to The Valley Patriot (Wednesday morning) that Cox was not “summonsed” and consistently claims Cox was “not charged with anything.”
But parents who attended court yesterday with their children who were at the underage drinking party, say her name was called in court and that she simply did not show up. None of them would go on the record to be identified.
“People lie, why are you surprised that people are lying” Murphy told The Valley Patriot Wednesday. “your sources lied, the schools lawyer lied, the principal lied… and retaliation like this is unconscionable and actionable.”
The Eagle Tribune also reported that Boxford police officer Brian Neely said that everyone at the party had been issued a summons as had been reported in The Valley Patriot. The Eagle Tribune also reported that students were separated into two groups, one for those under age and those who were over 18 years old. They report that Cox was among the students who were scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday.
“We have never retracted part of a story before, not in ten years of being in business,” said Valley Patriot publisher Tom Duggan.
“But, we were told in writing, by Attorney Wendy Murphy that Erin Cox was not scheduled to appear in court and was not charged.”
“She is an officer of the court and there is nobody willing to go on the record who can publicly dispute her claims. Because it is juvenile court there are no public records to verify one way or the other so, we retracted that part of the story that she was scheduled to appear, to reflect what we know to be accurate right now.”
“Our job is to be fair to both sides and I am glad we are able to do that,” Duggan said.
Elected officials on the North Andover School Committee have maintained their silence on the issue. Educators and town officials also refuse to comment on the record, but have expressed off the record that the initial media hurricane surrounding this story is replete with inaccuracies.
“What the media reported was the details of the student and her family and their attorney, and they just ran with it as if her version was fact. We now know that her version is in dispute, and there is a lot of evidence to show she was at that party a lot longer than she claimed,” one police officer told The Valley Patriot.
While evidence is not proof, there is no question that the town is divided and our readers are divided about who to believe.
Law enforcement sources had also told the Valley Patriot that there are social media posts showing other students from the underage drinking party had mocked Erin Cox as being dishonest for claiming she was only at the party to pick up her friend.
While The Valley Patriot verified that these posts did appear on social media, we cannot confirm the truthfulness of the students claims.
Earlier this month, school officials in North Andover cleared Erin Cox of having been drinking alcohol at the underage party, however, the rules for college athletes governed by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) were cited by High School Principal Scuzzarella when she suspended Cox from the Volleyball team for five games, and stripped away her captaincy for being present at the party. She was not suspended from school.
Superintendent Hutchinson told North Andover Patch that there is no “zero tolerance policy” and that Erin’s suspension was the full discretion of High School Principal Scuzzarella.
“Although we have been asked by several media outlets to respond to the allegations made against North Andover High School, our practice is to not comment on matters involving student discipline,” This approach is consistent with state and federal laws that prohibit the disclosure of confidential student record information.”
Was Erin Cox only at that under age drinking party for the sole purpose of giving her friend a ride home or was she there earlier?
Was she summonsed to court yesterday or is Wendy Murphy correct that it is all “lies”?
What is known for sure is that Erin Cox has a lot of evidence to show that she was not actually drinking at the underage party, something that has never been in dispute. We also know that a police report backs up her claim.
Also known is that she was present at the underage drinking party.
We know that Erin Cox did not show up in court for a hearing with the other students who were charged. And we know that she has hired high profile civil attorney Wendy Murphy to sue the school system for being suspended from the volleyball team, and losing her captaincy. An Attorney who is an officer of the court and claiming publicly, and emphatically that school officials “lied”.
What we do not know (yet) is whether or not Erin Cox is telling the complete truth about that night. Given that a lawsuit against the town will cost taxpayers millions in legal fees … even if the town of North Andover wins … public interest in finding out the truth about what happened to Erin Cox is a vital public interest. For sure, the story is not going to go away.
What is also not known, is whether or not Erin Cox is getting special treatment; if she is the only student not being charged with possession of alcohol for being a minor present at an under age drinking party; or if she is simply not charged because police and prosecutors believe her story.
The Valley Patriot newspaper is based in North Andover Massachusetts and will continue to follow and report on this story as it develops.
Anyone involved in the story who would like to talk to us on the record or would like to share information off the record can email us at email@example.com
Despite Attorney Murphy’s Assertions, Eagle Tribune Backs Claims that Erin Cox WAS Summonsed to Appear in Court for Possession of Alcohol – Valley Patriot – UPDATED STORY OCTOBER 23, 2013
Chaos in Cox Case as Stories Conflict – North Andover Patch – October 22, 2013
School lawyer lied about ‘arrest’ of girl suspended for trying to help drunken pal, attorney says – Fox News October 16, 2013
Erin Cox, suspended Massachusetts prep volleyball player, accused of lying – YAHOO – October 22, 2103
Student athlete shines in first game back after suspension for allegedly aiding drunken friend – Fox News October 19, 2013
Erin Cox, Mass. high school student, punished for aiding drunken friend – CBS – October 15, 2013
North Andover teen was issued summons after Boxford party
Lawyer warns of lawsuit against school district ‘and those who lied‘ – Eagle Tribune – October 23, 2013