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Parishville man pleads guilty in attack on Clarkson lacrosse player

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CANTON — One of the two men accused in the severe beating of a Clarkson University lacrosse player in late August pleaded guilty Tuesday in St. Lawrence County Court.

Bryan A. Bicknell, 21, of 342 West Parishville Road, Parishville, pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal assault, a class D felony, after reaching a plea deal with the district attorney’s office.

Mr. Bicknell admitted to Judge Jerome J. Richards that at 1:52 a.m. on Aug. 24, he and Dakota J. Vallance, 19, of 399 Buckton Road, Winthrop, attacked Donald J.W. Whelley, 21, on Maple Street in the village of Potsdam in front of the former Honda dealership.

The two suspects struck Mr. Whelley repeatedly in the head, causing him “countless fractures and dislocating his face,” according to an indictment handed up Oct. 1 by a St. Lawrence County grand jury. Mr. Whelley required facial reconstruction surgery because of his injuries.

Mr. Vallance pleaded not guilty to the same charge Oct. 15 in County Court.

As a part of Mr. Bicknell’s plea deal, he faces six months in the St. Lawrence County jail, five years’ probation supervision and what Judge Richards referred to “substantial restitution,” although that amount was not discussed during the plea. He also would have to testify against Mr. Vallance if his case goes to trial.

Sitting in the back of the courtroom watching the proceedings Tuesday were Donald Whelley’s parents, Stephen M. and Ruth Whelley.

Mr. Whelley said he was satisfied with the potential sentence for Mr. Bicknell.

“We thought long and hard about this, and we could have worked to throw this kid in the system,” Stephen Whelley said outside the courtroom. “This isn’t about revenge; it’s a chance at retribution for him.”

Mr. Bicknell is a young man who made a terrible mistake and he has his whole life ahead of him, Mr. Whelley said.

“We showed him a bit of mercy that he didn’t show our son on the night,” he said.

Mr. Bicknell is scheduled to be sentenced April 14. He was released under probation supervision.

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