UPDATED 5:45 P.M. Darien superintendent responds to New Canaan Police chief about schools knowing about assault

[UPDATED NOV. 30, 5:45 p.m.] Superintendent of Darien Public Schools Dan Brenner issued the following statement to the Darien Times on Nov. 30 after reading on DarienTimes.com that the New Canaan Police Chief stated that Darien High School leadership had information about the alleged assault by Darien students shortly after the incident took place and well before the arrests two weeks later.

“No one from the Darien High School Administration nor anyone on staff of the Darien School System had official information provided to them from the New Canaan Police Department concerning the alleged incident between certain Darien and New Canaan students prior to Wednesday night, Nov. 22 at 6:45 p.m., the eve of Thanksgiving.

“In fact, allegations of the incident were provided to the administration via an email from a New Canaan student on Nov. 7. The email was immediately turned over to the Darien Police and the New Canaan School system was notified. The Darien Police indicated that there was an active investigation underway by the New Canaan Police Department. That is the only contact the Darien Administration had regarding the New Canaan Police Department investigation prior to Nov. 22. At no time were any names of students or the nature of any pending charges reported to the administration.

“When the Darien Schools are made aware of a police investigation involving one of its students, it is the practice of the District to allow the investigation to go on without District involvement unless it is specifically requested by the investigating agency, in this case the New Canaan Police Department. This is a long standing practice that has been in place so that police investigations go unimpeded. It goes without saying that the Darien Schools have always worked collaboratively with policing agencies when and if its involvement is requested. We stand behind this procedure as it involves the current situation.

“Knowing that these unconfirmed rumors were potentially incendiary with the Turkey Bowl imminent, the administrations of both the Darien and New Canaan Schools remained in constant contact. Both Districts acknowledged that they had nothing other than unconfirmed rumors of who was involved in the alleged incident. We are very disturbed that it might be inferred by the Times article that the Darien School Administration did not act promptly on information that was provided. In fact, the schools acted immediately when they were finally formally notified of the arrests.”

[UPDATED NOV. 30, 5:05 p.m.]  New Canaan Police Chief Leon Krolikowski provided more details to the Advertiser Thursday afternoon about how and when the information about the reported assault by Darien football players got to Darien Public Schools officials.

According to Krolikowski, the investigation conducted by his department, a New Canaan student who witnessed the alleged assault sent an email to Darien Public Schools Athletic Director Chris Manfredonia about 90 minutes after the incident, at 12:43 a.m. on Nov. 7 and the email described an assault, named the Darien students who were involved and included other evidence of the incident.

Then, according to Krolikowski and his investigators, Manfredonia, at 6:38 a.m. on Nov. 7, forwarded the same email from the witness to Darien High School Principal Ellen Dunn and Darien Police Officer Bryan Wallman.

With knowledge of the content of the email and knowledge of who sent it to whom, Krolikowski told the Advertiser, “There is no doubt in my mind Darien school officials knew” the details of the incident, along with names of Darien students, from the emails sent on Nov. 7.

[UPDATED Nov. 30, 3:05 p.m.] New Canaan Police Chief Leon Krolikowski told the Advertiser that the timing of the arrests of three Darien High School football players on charges related to assault of a New Canaan teen resulted from the time it took for a comprehensive investigation and that Darien Public Schools leadership was aware of the incident shortly after the incident took place — as long as two weeks before the Turkey Bowl.

New Canaan Chief of Police, Leon Krolikowski. — Advertiser file photo

“The arrest warrant applications were submitted to the court as soon as the investigation was complete, which was on the afternoon of Nov. 21, 2017,” Krolikowski told the Advertiser on Nov. 29. Tuesday, Nov. 21, was two days before the Thanksgiving rivalry game. The arrest warrants were signed by a prosecutor and a judge the next day, on Wednesday, Nov. 22, and the Darien males surrendered to police that evening.

Since the arrests came so close to the Thanksgiving Day game between the two town high schools, questions have been circulating about the timing of the arrests. Some may suspect that the timing was executed so that Darien would have little time to prepare for the game without some starting players, assuming those players would lose their playing privilege if arrested for crimes.

Darien High School football coach Rob Trifone said in a post-Thanksgiving Day game interview with The Darien Times that the need to replace the starting quarterback was “sprung on us at the last minute,” explaining why the backup quarterbacks “didn’t have any practice.”

Trifone said also that he “had very little time” to regroup after the loss of the players who were arrested, and that he does not control if his players have their playing privilege suspended. The implication is that the decision to suspend playing privileges is made by other school leaders.

Krolikowski told the Advertiser on Nov. 30 that “Darien High School leadership” was made aware of the details of the incident, including the names of the accused, as early as Nov. 7, more than two weeks before the arrests were made and before the Thanksgiving day football game. He stated also that attorneys for the accused were told in advance that the warrants were forthcoming.

“There is no doubt in my mind Darien school officials knew,” Krolikowski told the Advertiser upon request for clarification.

[3:05 UPDATE] While speaking with the Advertiser Krolikowski acknowledged that he has a son on the New Canaan High School football team, and to any suggestion about that fact affecting his department’s treatment of the case he said, “That simply is not true.”

Focus on wrong issue

The chief said, “As usual people focus on the wrong issues. They are looking to blame someone.” He said be believes that is because an “arrest is a failure on someone’s part,” someone with parenting responsibility, he said.

[RETURN TO ORIGINAL STORY] Chief Krolikowski’s complete response to the Advertiser’s original inquiry about the timing of the arrests follows here:

“The assault complaint was received by our Department on Nov. 7, 2017, and a comprehensive investigation began immediately.

“Between Nov. 7, 2017, and when the arrest warrant applications were submitted for prosecutorial and judicial review on Nov. 21, 2017, investigators conducted over twenty interviews. Coordinating those interviews around individual schedules takes time. Also, there were meetings with the suspects’ attorneys and state prosecutors.

“The arrest warrant applications were submitted to the court as soon as the investigation was complete, which was on the afternoon of Nov. 21, 2017. Subsequently, the arrest warrants were reviewed and signed by a state prosecutor and a judge. The signed arrest warrants were picked-up from court in the afternoon of Nov. 22, 2017.

“All attorneys involved were aware arrest warrants were imminent. The suspects’ attorneys were notified as soon as the signed arrest warrants were with our Department. The suspects’ attorney coordinated their clients’ surrender to our Department.

“To quell rumors and speculation, it is important to note that details of this incident, including the accused, were made aware to the Darien High School leadership. Although specifics of the investigation were not shared with school staff, Darien High School leaders were notified of the active police investigation.”

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  • Commissioner

    Chief doth protest too much.

  • Cooler Heads

    Why didn’t Darien get out in front of this if they knew on November 7th.

  • John Sini

    What a mess. This latest development from Darienu2019s Superintendent reveals serious deficiencies related to the NCPDu2019s investigation/communication. nnFor the sake of both towns, canu2019t town and school leadership and police start to work together in to order to secure Proper due process for all of those allegedly involved? Time to take this process out of the press.nnI am embarrassed for both towns.

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