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August 10, 2022

Coach fights for his job

Hearing begins as Marty Dillon attempts to get SBHS job back
A lengthy hearing in Morgan Hill is underway to determine
whether allegations of sexual misconduct against former San Benito
High School coach Marty Dillon have any merit, or if the embattled
instructor should get his old job back.
Hearing begins as Marty Dillon attempts to get SBHS job back

A lengthy hearing in Morgan Hill is underway to determine whether allegations of sexual misconduct against former San Benito High School coach Marty Dillon have any merit, or if the embattled instructor should get his old job back.

Dillon and his lawyer requested the administrative hearing, closed to the public and the media, hoping to clear the instructor’s name after the school dismissed him in June for a series of alleged improprieties throughout the last four years. The school’s most contentious cause for dismissal was for allegedly grabbing the breasts of a female student at a girls’ softball game in Stockton.

“The charges are exaggerated,” said Dillon’s attorney, Joseph Cisneros of Salinas.

The hearing, held in a room at a Gavilan College satellite campus, is much like a court trial. It involves a “stull panel” of three neutral judges: a lawyer and two school administrators from outside school districts. The presiding judge is not an elected judge, but rather administrative lawyer Michael Cohn of Oakland. Depositions are taken from witnesses, who are then cross-examined by Dillon’s lawyer.

On Monday several student witnesses were kept sequestered in a room next to the hearing room. A parent, who protectively hovered around the girls as they arrived at the hearing and left for lunch, accompanied them.

Because the case is being discussed in a closed hearing, no one involved in the case is willing to comment except Cisneros.

On Wednesday he said “nothing had been shocking” in the depositions so far.

The school alleges as true an investigative story in The Pinnacle two years ago that claimed that in 2000 Dillon padded his daughter’s batting statistics in order to win a spot on the enviable All-MBL regional girl’s softball team.

“It wasn’t true,” said Cisneros. “It was really his daughter’s fault, and she will testify to that during the hearing.”

Cisneros didn’t elaborate further on what Dillon’s daughter, now graduated, supposedly did to get her father in trouble for the allegedly cooked scores.

Cisneros expects administration officials to claim that Dillon showed favoritism toward his daughter when she was on the softball team and enrolled in the school. But it’s unwarranted, he said. He also said that the school believes that Dillon was too hard as a coach in general.

“We have a difference of opinion on that issue,” said Cisneros. “Many times he was harder on his girls than he was on other students.”

Dillon’s second daughter is now a senior.

Shortly after the batting statistics revelation, Dillon was accused of massaging a girl’s shoulders while making inappropriate comments to her.

The lawyer didn’t comment further on the allegations, but went on to say that a legion of colleagues, parents and students will testify on Dillon’s behalf. They will mostly be character witnesses who will say what a good teacher and coach Dillon is.

Some 15 witnesses, mostly teenaged students, will be put on the stand to testify against Dillon. But after the school makes its case, Dillon and his lawyer will present their side.

Dillon has never been formally charged by the courts for any of the alleged misconducts. Both the San Benito and the San Joaquin counties’ District Attorney’s offices dropped their investigations for lack of evidence.

Dillon is a certified employee – a title that carries more status then being tenured. He was the Athletic Director for SBHS for 20 years, but his long career took a nosedive after he was seen by several students and parents last October grabbing the breasts of a student during a summer league softball game in Stockton.

When Dillon was discharged by the school because of the purported breast-grabbing incident, Cisneros said that Dillon was not trying to be criminal in the action, but “humorous.”

After his client was dismissed from the school, Cisneros said the coach was looking forward to the hearings for vindication.

“It’s tiring and stressful for him,” said Cisneros. “I tell Marty we have to keep our spirits up because it will be our turn to present witnesses next.”

The stull panel is not expected to render a decision on Dillon’s appeal until a month after what could be a three-week hearing, according to Cisneros.

Kate Woods
A staff member edited this provided article.

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