Tamaqua graduate calls for Wittig to resign
Tamaqua Area School Board President Larry Wittig came under fire Tuesday night in a short scheduled meeting.
At the end of the meeting, Emily Paisley, a Tamaqua graduate, spoke in regard to SafeSport’s decision to permanently ban Wittig from participating in any United States Rowing Association events. The allegations against Wittig are from the early 1980s.
Wittig, a former University of Pennsylvania rowing coach, faced allegations brought up by a woman named Annette DeMichele, who was 17 at the time and a part of the Penn rowing team. She reported the situation to the U.S. Center for SafeSport, which opened the investigation in February 2018.
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, DeMichele claimed to have a year-and-a-half sexual relationship with Wittig.
After an Inquirer article broke in December 2017, Wittig admitted to the Times News that he had sex with a student.
His accuser said it was consensual at the time, but now, looking back, she felt she was unduly influenced by him.
“I just think it’s very important for the young girls of our school district and also young girls of our community to understand that there are people that do not support Larry Wittig,” Paisley said. “Our students need and desire a safe school environment.”
She spoke to the board, asking them to call for Wittig’s resignation or for Wittig to resign on his own.
“And don’t support the fact that even that it might have been 30 years ago, there are comments that he made now, that should disqualify him from being on the school board,” Paisley said.
Wittig, who has been the board president since 1995, is appealing the SafeSport ban.
Neither Wittig, nor the board members responded. Wittig quickly adjourned the meeting.
“My comment on the situation is very simple; this is under appeal,” Wittig said after the meeting.
He added, “It’s going to be before a judge, not to our arbiters that are not judges. And it will be under oath, as it was not before. After this, I hope that the media has as much seal in putting the outcome as it did in this particular case. As for as the political motivation for coming out three weeks before an election. I find it very really paradoxical, considering that the results of the SafeSport investigation was concluded in June 2018. They’ve been sitting on this until three weeks before the election.”
Last week, he spoke to the Times News about the ruling.
“As it relates to SafeSport, I was unfairly judged,” Wittig said. “In the morality part of things; guilty. Guilty of having an illicit affair. Cannot go back and change that. I can’t change circumstances of how we got together either. And that’s an absolute lie on her part.”
Wittig mentioned that he recently delivered a four-and-a-half-hour testimony, and that he had been pushing for SafeSport to look into this situation for quite some time since the allegations were made public.
“The state of Pennsylvania has granted me authority to coach, teach or be around any student in Pennsylvania by virtue of my Act 34 clearances, which I have gotten years ago, because I support the co-op program at the IU and employ students,” Wittig said.
According to the SafeSport website, the decision regarding his status was made on Sept. 27.
A video of Tuesday’s meeting, with the dialogue between Wittig and Paisley can be found on the Times News Lehighton Facebook page.