Basalt High student subject of restraining order request | AspenTimes.com
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Basalt High student subject of restraining order request

Tim Mutrie

A Basalt High School employee has obtained a restraining order against senior student Robert Peters, prompting an investigation by school officials.

Apparently connected to the dispute is the complaint filed last week by Peters, 18, and his mother, alleging Peters was threatened by a Basalt Police officer.

While school officials last week declined to discuss the specifics of their investigation, Roaring Fork School District Superintendent Fred Wall said: “[BHS Principal] Mike Costanzo is conducting an investigation revolving around a student and a staff member.” BHS dance team coach Gwen Smith and Peters are the parties involved, Wall confirmed.

Smith, a district employee who leads the 28-member, all-female dance team that performs during basketball games, filed a restraining order against Peters on Feb. 22. In the complaint – which was granted by a Pitkin County judge after a hearing on March 1 – Smith alleges that Peters threatened her at a BHS basketball game Feb. 18. The restraining order prohibits Peters from having any contact with Smith at least through July.

Peters “gave me the finger, walked out saying obscenities,” Smith said in the complaint. “I confronted [him], [he] said for me to watch out, more obscenities, yelled that I should call 1-800-Jenny Craig – continued threatening – gang signs.”

Contacted by telephone last night, Smith declined any comment on the matter.

Yesterday, Peters admitted that he gave Smith the finger, and insulted her, but only after she directed rude comments at him. Peters said he was wishing his girlfriend, a dance team member, well right before they were to go on, when Smith said, “Get out of here punks,” to Peters and two friends.

“So I flipped her off and walked into the big gym,” Peters said. “Then she came after us, and said she would tell the principal, but when she couldn’t find him, she came back and said, `You know what, you guys are just a bunch of losers.’ That’s when I replied, `1-800-94-Jenny.’ “

Peters said later that night at the game, school Vice Principal Paul Cain confronted him.

“He told me to leave or I was going to get arrested, and I told him to `f– off,’ ” Peters said. “Then we left, and that was it.”

Following the incident, Peters was suspended from school for two days (Feb. 23 and 24).

Peters said he and Cain “discussed the alleged threats made to Gwen Smith, but he didn’t do anything about that, because no one could prove it. I got suspended for my comments to Mr. Cain and for flipping Ms. Smith off.”

Cain declined to discuss the matter last week.

Peters said he feels that his scrape with Smith is connected to threats that Basalt Police Sgt. Chris Maniscalchi directed at him on March 1 – the same day that Smith’s restraining order was heard in court. Peters alleges that after Maniscalchi pulled him over for a minor vehicle infraction, the cop advised him in a threatening manner to stay away from a certain BHS student whose mother is friendly with Smith.

Concurrent to the BHS investigation, the town of Basalt is conducting an investigation into the substance of Peters’ complaint against Maniscalchi, which was filed March 6 with Basalt Town Manager Tom Baker by Peters’ mother, Cheryl Kisow. Aspen Police Chief Tom Stephenson, whose resignation as Aspen’s top cop takes effect this Thursday, has been contracted to conduct an internal investigation into Peters’ complaint.

Stephenson said last week he hoped to get the investigation under way this week.

Principal Costanzo said last week that he is “investigating a situation regarding the dance team season over the course of the year,” though he declined to discuss any specifics of the matter due to confidentiality laws pertaining to personnel and students.


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