LLHS' Travis Julian subject of suit

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A civil lawsuit alleges current Los Lunas High School boys basketball coach Travis Julian assaulted a player two years ago while serving as the coach for the Manzano High School in Albuquerque.

In the lawsuit, Dillon Blank, then a 15-year-old Manzano freshman basketball player, alleges that, on May 25, 2011, Julian attacked him without provocation in the locker room.

According to the lawsuit, the teenager received bruises to his neck, his chest and under his arms and also suffered a bloody nose after Julian "jammed" Blank's head into a locker multiple times.

Both Julian and Albuquerque Public Schools are listed as defendants in the lawsuit, which was filed May 24 in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque.

It is unclear why the lawsuit was not filed until two years after the alleged incident.

On Monday, the News-Bulletin spoke to Julian at Los Lunas High School, where he was conducting a youth basketball camp. Julian recently completed his first season with the Tigers.

"I can't comment on the case," said Julian. "I have people working on my behalf. The whole story is not being told through the media. There's only one side being told. But at this time, I cannot comment."

Blank's attorney, Gabrielle Valdez, did not return a call from the Journal seeking comment.

"We don't comment on pending litigation," APS spokesman Rigo Chavez said.

In the lawsuit, Blank claims Julian approached him in a threatening manner and taunted him by saying: "You think you're a tough guy?"

What followed, Blank claims, was that Julian ground his knee into him and elbowed his chest. He further alleges that Julian grabbed him by the neck with both hands and jammed Blank's head into a locker "several times."

According to the lawsuit, Ernie Lopez, then a freshman coach for Manzano High, yelled at Julian to stop.

When Blank sat down to put on his shoes so he could leave, Julian lunged at Blank a second time and grabbed the student and pulled him into his office, all while yelling and cursing at him, the lawsuit says.

At this point Blank said Lopez, who is now an assistant varsity coach at Manzano, intervened a second time.

The lawsuit seeks damages against both Julian and APS for "encouraging an ongoing, widespread and pervasive culture of inappropriate abusive behavior."

The lawsuit says APS knew Julian had "temper and rage issues" but failed to address them. The lawsuit says Julian "assaulted" an official during a home game Feb. 17, 2012, against Albuquerque La Cueva.

According to news coverage at the time, Julian was ejected from that game and missed the next two for that infraction.

Contacted Tuesday morning, Los Lunas Schools Athletic Director Wilson Holland declined to comment to the News-Bulletin but added that any questions about the issue "must go to the (Los Lunas Schools) superintendent.

"We're not going to be actively involved," Los Lunas Assistant Superintendent Dana Sanders told the Journal last week. Sanders added that is was too early to say anything about the lawsuit.

Blank said in the lawsuit that he quit basketball because he felt Manzano presented a hostile environment. The lawsuit said it was APS' responsibility to report what happened to law enforcement.

(News-Bulletin reporter Kenn Rodriguez contributed to this story.)