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Two plead not guilty in assault of Clarkson lacrosse player


POTSDAM — The two St. Lawrence County men accused of breaking the jaw of a Clarkson University lacrosse player in the early morning hours of Aug. 24 were released under probation supervision after pleading not guilty to felony counts of second-degree assault to the dismay of the student’s family Friday in Potsdam Village Court.

Stephen M. Whelley went from shifting in his seat Friday morning with his wife, Ruth, at his side to standing and calling for the judge to hear his case when Potsdam Village Justice Nicholas J. Pignone told Bryan A. Bicknell, 20, of 342 West Parishville Road, Parishville, and Dakota J. Vallance, 18, of 399 Buckton Road, Winthrop, that he would continue their release under probation supervision and not remand them to jail.

Mr. Whelley was asked to take his seat; however, after the outburst. He said later his outburst in court was due to not fully understanding the strategy in place by the St. Lawrence County District Attorney’s office.

“This is not over,” Mr. Whelley told teammates of his son, Donald J. W. Whelley, outside the courtroom. “This has only just begun. We are going to the gates of hell with this.”

Mr. Whelley said he was “disappointed and perplexed” by the decision to release Bicknell and Vallance, adding that he expected to see their cases go before St. Lawrence County Court.

The 21-year-old Clarkson University sophomore and defenseman for the university’s lacrosse team found himself having to undergo facial reconstructive surgery for a broken upper jaw, orbital fracture and facial cuts after the incident in the early morning hours of Aug. 24..

This is the second time Bicknell and Vallance have appeared in village court, though this time each appeared with counsel.

Vallance was represented by St. Lawrence County Assistant Public Defender Steven G. Ballan, and Bicknell was represented by St. Lawrence County Assistant Conflict Defender Heather A. Dona. Both defense attorneys declined comment on the ongoing case.

In addition to probation, both defendants have been given curfews of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and a no-contact order of protection in favor of Donald Whelley had been amended by Judge Pignone to include Daniel R. Netter, the witness who found Mr. Whelley bloodied and semiconscious in the parking lot of the former Honda dealership.

Judge Pignone adjourned the matter until 9:30 a.m. Sept. 20.

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