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Harvard Man to Sue New Kid

Pop Star Wahlberg Involved in Mid-Air Scuffle With Junior

By Seth A. Gitell

Donnie Wahlberg, of the pop music group New Kids on the Block, allegedly assaulted a Harvard junior on a Delta Airlines flight bound for Atlanta earlier this month.

Benjamin Dattner '92, on his way home from an Outward Bound trip in Utah, was taken to South Fulton Medical Center in Atlanta for treatment following an altercation with Wahlberg, Atlanta police said.

According to Dattner, the Boston Globe, and hospital authorities, the New York native received a scratched cornea and head bruises during the scuffle.

Dattner, who is a Crimson editor, said in an interview that he was napping outstretched on three empty seats on a morning flight from Salt Lake City, Utah when Wahlberg ordered him out of the seat.

"Yo man, you're in my seat," Dattner said Wahlberg told him.

Dattner refused to move and asked to see Wahlberg's boarding pass, he said.

"He did not present it, but jabbed me in the eye anyway," said Dattner, who added that he has heard none of the New Kids' music and favors musicians such as the Rolling Stones, the Beatles and Sting.

Spokespersons from both Delta Airlines and the Atlanta Police confirmed that a scuffle occurred, but could not elaborate on details of the fight.

Dattner said he was able to push Wahlberg away, but soon three members of the band's entourage arrived and held him down while Wahlberg hit him. Finally, flight attendants broke up the fight and gave him ice packs.

Dattner said he has enlisted the aid of a Manhattan attorney and intends to sue Wahlberg for his injuries. He is also considering filing criminal charges against the young star.

"These people are not above the law," said Dattner. "This whole thing was a very upsetting experience. I'm not yet sure of the extent of my injuries. Charges will be filed."

Len Lewin, the band's attorney, told the Associated Press that he was still trying to gather facts about the latest incident. He said earlier this week he was heading to the West Coast to speak with Wahlberg and other members of the group.

Some of the Kids' trouble "goes with the fame," Lewin said. "It may just come with the territory," the attorney said.

For the New Kids, who have won fame and financial success on the backs of their image as good, drug-free, hardworking teens, the fight is just one in a growing series of incidents that run contrary to their carefully crafted band persona.

August was a bad month for the New Kids, both in the Boston area and on tour. In Braintree, police arrested members of Wahlberg's family after a fight at a party.

Earlier that month, fellow band-member Joe McIntyre was involved in a scuffle at a Quincy bar.

Meanwhile, in Atlanta Wahlberg got into a fight with Georgia Tech students, and Jordan Knight reportedly struck a 21-year-old woman.

However, fans can expect the New Kids to clean up their act, Attorney Lewin said.

"Some program is going to be established to change things around as to how they conduct themselves," he said. "I think something has to be done. We're going to sit down with parents, kids, management, the whole team."

This article is reprinted from Monday's Crimson.

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