Posts Tagged ‘crime’
A figure in one of the most notorious cases of school sports hazing in recent memory — and his family — were counseled by their attorneys to stay silent in the face of accusations of possible sexual crimes, intense media coverage and a backlash from some locals. After breaking their silence, the figure and his family proved their attorney provided wise counsel.
Scott Laskowski was one of four Carmel (Ind.) High School basketball players (now all graduated) who faced criminal charges following two separate hazing incidents, one on a team bus on the way back from a game, and one in the team locker room. Laskowski pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge related to the locker room incident, though he was suspended from the team and expelled from classes. Laskowski is the son of former Indiana University basketball player and announcer John Laskowski, making him, by accident of birth, the most prominent of the four accused. (Two others have pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges in the locker room incident, while other charges have been dropped, and two players — not including Laskowski — are still going through the court system over the bus incident.)
I’ll save you the slog through a six-page story on The Indianapolis Star’s website to get to the meat (on page six):
When the Laskowskis finally decided to speak, they lashed out at the media and the school and the accuser. They said their son is the real victim. The school took one student’s word against their son’s. His accuser — whose family plans a $2.25 million lawsuit against the school district — is in it for the money. And the media excess was motivated by greed.
My response: boo fucking hoo.
I’ll give the Laskowskis that having stalkers (including one person arrested for doing so) posting “a sex offender lives here” signs on their lawn and following them through the streets of Carmel was way over the top, and I don’t blame the family for moving 65 miles south to Bloomington to get away from it.
But, for Christ’s sake, when you have a victim who is reported to have had various objects shoved up his anus, you don’t go around proclaiming yourself or your golden boy as “the real victim.” There is no way to come out of that unscathed.
The story dwells on all the information that wasn’t released because of laws governing school privacy and grand-jury testimony. (It’s nice to see that the Laskowskis and those sympathetic with the victim can agree on one thing — that the school totally mishandled the situation.) But it doesn’t shed a lot of light on what Laskowski did or saw.
His guilty plea came for, as he put it, holding the ankles of a victim attacked in the locker room, and he denies doing anything on the bus. OK, we’ll take him at his word. So what did Laskowski see on the infamous bus ride? Did he see something happen? Are the others guilty? Is the victim making this up? In six pages, either Scott Laskowski wasn’t asked, or the interview was conditioned on the reporter not asking. Or, given the Laskowski family’s self-absorption, at least as it came across in the story, nobody knows or cares.
One of the many reasons I advocate against laws allowing guns at youth sports events is the powder-keg of emotions in the stands. And what can set it off is not necessarily anything going on in the game. A youth sports event can be a wondrous event to bring families together in harmony — or a horrible excuse for broken families to get together to settle their differences.
MIDDLETOWN, Ind. — Police say a man stabbed his wife’s ex-husband during a fight that broke out during a youth basketball game at a Central Indiana school. Henry County Sheriff Butch Baker says 34-year-old Eric Allred, Muncie, suffered a non-life-threatening stab wound to his torso and was taken to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.
Baker tells The [Muncie] Star Press that Allred and 27-year-old Christopher Ellis, Middletown, started arguing in the bleachers during Saturday’s game at Shenandoah Elementary School. Baker says the fight then moved into a restroom, where Ellis attacked Allred with a knife.
The [Anderson, Ind.] Herald Bulletin reports Allred is the father of a child who was playing.
Ellis was being held in the Henry County Jail on preliminary aggravated battery charges.
OK, let me rephrase that — people shouldn’t be bringing any weapons to a kids game. At least, though, a knife can do limited damage compared to a gun. And, with no guns allowed, a trigger-happy vigilante can’t decide to step in the middle of a, shall we say, dicey domestic situation.
A Pop Warner football coach was zapped with a stun gun Tuesday night during an argument with a parent at Sandalwood High School, Jacksonville police said.
Now 43-year-old Roxine Cornela Cobb of the 700 block of Oaks Plantation Drive in Arlington has been arrested on charges of battery and discharging a weapon on school grounds, according to the police report.
Robert Medley II told police he had argued with the woman and her son who plays on his football team Monday night. The confrontation resumed about 6:15 p.m. the next day when the woman walked up to Medley and zapped him in the chest with the stun gun, the arrest report said.
Medley, 41, said he slapped the stun gun out of her hand and the argument ended as police arrived. Cobb told police she didn’t think she actually zapped him.
Two witnesses confirmed the coach’s account, police said.
Pressed for further comment about how he felt about this turn of events, the coach said: “Shocked.”
Benjamin Alexander-Bloch of the New Orleans Times-Picayune is working on his own “Game Of Shadows,” like those San Francisco Chronicle reporters who blew the lid off of steroids and Barry Bonds. Except that the steroid scandal Alexander-Bloch uncovered is a little bit more, shall we say, under the radar.
A youth baseball coach who beat up a rival coach after a crucial Slidell [La.] Bantam Baseball Association game in 2008 had off-the-chart levels of animal steroids in his system after his sentencing for battery, according to test results recently obtained by The Times-Picayune.
Wait a minute — it makes some sense that you might take steroids to play baseball, but to coach it?
According to Alexander-Bloch’s story, the judge who gave Jason Chighizola, 34, a 30-day jail sentence for beating up a rival coach in full view of young players and parents happened to notice that Chighizola seemed a bit unusually chiseled, and ordered him regularly tested for substance abuse. This order came Sept. 1, 2009, or more than a year after Chighizola, who coached the 8-year-old Yankees, beat up Robert Johnson, 35, of the 8-year-old Red Sox following a game the Yankees lost, putting the Red Sox in first place. And you know ESPN Slidell was covering that series way more than any other more interesting baseball. Damn Yankees-Red Sox bias.
It appears Chighizola, um, passed his test more than any test he may have ever taken.
Chighizola tested positive for trenbolone metabolite, which is used by veterinarians on livestock to increase muscle growth and appetite, the records show. He also tested positive for stanozolol metabolite, which is often used along with other anabolic steroids and is known for increasing strength while not leading to excess weight gain.
The results were conducted by a California company, Redwood Toxicology Laboratory, and measured the balance between Chighizola’s testosterone and epitestosterone. If the ratio of testosterone in a person’s system is greater than six times the amount of epitestosterone, then it generally means that there are steroids in the person’s system.
In Chighizola’s case, that ratio equaled 86, the records show.
While Chighizola’s attorney says he has tested negative ever since, the coach — who allegedly was reacting to a smart-ass comment by Johnson when he pounded the shit out of him — can’t set foot on a field in Slidell ever again. It could have been worse: if anyone had known the amount of trenbolone metabolite Chighizola had in him, he might have been sentenced to become a delicious steak.
Here’s the tally, presented May 17, from the long-simmering hazing investigations involving four senior basketball players at Carmel (Ind.) High School:
* Oscar Faludon — one count battery, Class A misdemeanor, two counts criminal recklessness, Class B misdemeanor
* Scott Laskowski — three counts criminal recklessness, Class B misdemeanor
Both indicted in relation to locker room incidents at Carmel High. They will be tried in their home of Hamilton County (north suburban Indianapolis).
* Brandon Hoge — one count battery, Class A misdemeanor, one count criminal recklessness, Class B misdemeanor, one count battery, Class B misdemeanor
* Robert Kitzinger — one count battery, class A misdemeanor, one count criminal recklessness, Class B misdemeanor, one count battery, Class B misdemeanor
Both indicted in relation to an incident on a team bus driving back from Terre Haute. They will be tried in Hendricks County (west suburban Indianapolis), where the criminal conduct is alleged to have taken place.
I’ll have more on this later. I’m watching the news conference being streamed on Fox59.com.
A quick take:
The grand jury, which heard evidence from at least 57 witnesses, did not come back with any sex crimes or felonies, as alleged in the first incident reports. Hamilton County Prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp says the school cooperated fully and is putting a peer-to-peer program in place to help ensure these incidents don’t happen, or if they do, they don’t come out a month after the fact, as happened in the basketball case. However, she did say the school’s initial discussion of the hazing not rising to the level of criminal activity was a result of administrators not having enough information at the time. The grand jury looked at evidence related to three coaches who were supervising, or should have been supervising, at the time of the incidents, but decided no charges should be brought against them.
Leerkamp isn’t divulging details on the indictment, which is sealed because it came from a grand jury. However, she’s very publicly indicting the culture that led to the alleged incidents. In many cases, she said, students interviewed proffered the view that the victims brought it on themselves.
“How does a victim ask to be violated?” Leerkamp said. “That attitude was out there” that a victim indeed does.
Will the players get convicted? They’ve retained Jim Voyles, probably the best defense lawyer in the Indianapolis area. If the East Coast lawyers Mike Tyson’s team hired let Voyles, as a hometown assistant, try the case in the Indianapolis court instead of just push paper, Tyson would have never seen a day in jail, because he never would have been convicted of rape.
The prosecution also will have to deal with, by its own admission, that the kids got the attitude that victims deserve their fate from the adults around them. “I have jurors who have said a women asked to be raped, because of what she was wearing, and that a child asked to be molested, because they crawled on the lap” of an adult who had previously violated them, Leerkamp said.
How can athletes get away with hazing? Because adults allow them to.
“That’s at the core of what happened at Carmel High School, and the core of what we have to deal with,” Leerkamp said.
If you have children in sports, or children of any sort, you probably already know about the hell that can be Chuck E. Cheese, where the ad tagline says it’s a place where a kid can be a kid, but leaves out that a parent can be a fucking maniac. Watching their kid at a ballgame can bring out the worst in some parents, but even close access to weaponry such as hockey sticks or baseball bats does not bring out the level of mayhem as close access to animatronic rodents and lousy pizza.
Like the executives at Chuck E. Cheese say, the vast majority of the time you can bring your children there and have a pleasant experience, especially if you give your children a Karen Silkwood-style disinfectant shower afterward. However, the presumed kid-friendly environment is a powder keg of subsumed violence ready to explode at any moment, such as if someone is taking too long at the photo machine.
That was the cause of a Feb. 15 fight in a Memphis location, which ended up with four people being arrested, and is part of the reason I’m reminded at this moment about the worst of Chuck E. Cheese.
A few days later, in Indianapolis, a Chuck E. Cheese security camera showed a mom who used her 5-year-old to help her jack another patron’s purse.
That Chuck E. Cheese is a place where your child can play grab-ass while you play punch-face is hardly a recent development. The Wall Street Journal two years ago had a great story about the chain’s criminal customer element that started thus: “In Brookfield, Wis., no restaurant has triggered more calls to the police department since last year than Chuck E. Cheese’s.”
Fights among guests are an issue for all restaurants, but security experts say they pose a particular problem for Chuck E. Cheese’s, since it is designed to be a haven for children. Law-enforcement officials say alcohol, loud noise, thick crowds and the high emotions of children’s birthday parties make the restaurants more prone to disputes than other family entertainment venues.
The environment also brings out what security experts call the “mama-bear instinct.” A Chuck E. Cheese’s can take on some of the dynamics of the animal kingdom, where beasts rush to protect their young when they sense a threat.
Stepping in when a parent perceives that a child is being threatened “is part of protective parenting,” says Frank Farley, a psychologist at Temple University and former president of the American Psychological Association. “It is part of the species — all species, in fact — in the animal kingdom,” he says. “We do it all of the time.”
That explains the Saturday night in a Bradenton, Fla., Chuck E. Cheese, when I looked up and saw my oldest, heretofore quiet, even-keeled son, then 4 years old, huffing and growling repeatedly, mama bear-like, at another boy in the rat tunnel. He was baring his teeth enough, I thought perhaps my son had turned into Way Pre-Teen Wolf. When he came down — I couldn’t physically get up there to extricate him — my son explained that the boy had pushed aside his 2-year-old sister, and that made him mad. As heartened as I was he was protecting his sister, it was clearly time to go.
The post-toddler growling was the climax of a night that featured what causes the tension at Chuck E. Cheese: parents of varying parental ability gathering in one spot to let their children run buck-wild because Chuck E. Cheese is a place where a kid can be a kid, and a parent doesn’t have to be a parent.
So why do we as parents keep going back? I’m not sure I have a good answer to that question. My kids have generally had a good time there over the years, and after Brandentongate we learned to never go on a Friday or Saturday night again. But I must admit, entering a Chuck E. Cheese makes my adrenaline rush like a walk through an unknown bad neighborhood, part fear of what might come, and part excitement for a chance to witness mayhem and make my dull suburban life just a little more exciting.
“You can usually get people aside and let them vent a bit. Then they usually realize, ‘What am I doing here?’”
Those are the words of Jeff Shand, commissioner of the Burnsville Athletic Club’s in-house basketball league in suburban Minneapolis-St. Paul, describing the crazy parents that he deals with from time to time in his gig. I know the feeling.
I had a mother in my fifth- and sixth-grade coed league that, ahem, had a few differences of opinion with my methods of coaching, particularly the method in which I didn’t play her son every minute of every game. That, ahem, conversation climaxed — on the first word — with her screaming obscenities at me out front of the gym. I’ve never seen everyone stop at once in the parking lot and stare with big kitty saucer eyes like that before or since. But after a little while, she calmed down, and we were able to have a civil conversation. Sometimes a parent just gets frustrated in the heat of the moment, and as long as you, as Shand advises, let them vent, it won’t be pretty, but it will end well.
Alas, Shand’s comment to the the Star-Tribune of Minneapolis came after an incident that did not start OR end well, according to police.
A youth basketball commissioner was assaulted by a dad and possibly another person at a sixth-graders’ game over the weekend in a dispute over officiating at the end of overtime, according to the league and police.
Jeff Shand, 50, had his jaw dislocated, suffered a concussion and has dental damage from the attack immediately after a tournament game Saturday at Burnsville High School, according to Rich Hardegger, an assistant commissioner for Burnsville boys’ in-house basketball.
A 48-year-old man from Minneapolis was subdued after being kicked in the groin by one man and then tackled by several adults, said police Sgt. Jef Behnken. The man was arrested, booked in jail and then released on his own recognizance, Behnken said. …
Behnken said the dad hit the commissioner, but Shand said it was a teenager or man in his early 20s who “sucker-punched” him from behind. Shand said the dad had thrown a basketball at him.
Behnken said authorities are looking for another suspect, a 15-year-old boy.
This kind of stuff never happens to David Stern. (Video of the altercation is here. Fox 9 in Minneapolis identifies the alleged assailant as Robin Johnson, and that he, his family — including his son who played that day — are banned from the Burnsville league.)
Nicole Lavoi at One Sport Voice, which gets the hat tip for this article, said in her research as a psychology and sports sociology professor at the University of Minnesota, the so-called “Background Anger” at youth sports events comes from two things: perceptions of injustice and perceptions of incompetence. In other words, you fucked over my kid because you were so stupid.
Thankfully, few parents take their anger to such a violent level. The problem is, you never know who is capable of getting this upset, and when it will manifest itself in such extreme ways. As Shand put it: “The only people we can’t do background checks on are the parents.”
A little inside True/Slant baseball. This morning I got an email from the site’s own Kashmir Hill, saying she thought of me when she saw a story about a private school volleyball coach busted for kissing a 14-year-old girl. (This school, Brooklyn Poly Prep Country Day, is still reeling from the realization its late, longtime football coach was a child predator.) I thanked Kashmir for thinking of me, hoping it was because of this blog and not because I’ve given any indication of being a perv myself. I also mentioned that given the volumen of stories I see, I could probably make this site nothing but coach/student sex scandals (“That’s depressing,” Kashmir responded). I said I would leave most of that to Badjocks.com.
Well, thanks to Badjocks, I discovered a story that goes beyond the pale of the usual coach/student ickiness.
So in Palm Desert, Calif., the high school softball coach, Ashley Nieto, got fired for having a sex offender helping her out. That sex offender: her husband, Ronald Nieto. That husband’s victim: the softball coach herself.
But to crib a line from the great Captain Underpants series — OK, maybe a principal who runs around in his underpants is not the best literary character to cite in a piece like this — but before I tell you that story, I have to tell you this one.
According to the Desert Sun (Palm Springs, Calif.), Ashley Nieto, used her husband an assistant in 2004, until the district informed her and other coaches that every coach would have to be fingerprinted for a background check. Coach Nieto told the school about her husband’s sex offender past — a 1998 guilty plea to two counts of lewd activity with child younger than 16 — and was told her husband’s services in the dugout were no longer needed.
Except that he eventually made his way back to the dugout and helped work out the kids. The Nietos said there was a vendetta because a deputy district attorney’s daughter didn’t make varsity, although several parents came forward over the summer to tell the school Ronald Nieto worked with the girls on conditioning drills. Vendetta or not, and even though there was no evidence he ever harmed any Palm Desert player, Ronald Nieto couldn’t be working with the team. and on Dec. 3, Ronald Nieto pleaded not guilty on Dec. 3 to charges of not disclosing his sex offender status, working with minors as a registered sex offender and being on campus without school officials’ permission.
Now about that Ashley-being-a-victim-of-Ronald thing.
Ronald’s conviction came when he was 38, and Ashley was 14. (He is now 50, she, 26.) Her contention is that she never wanted to press charges, but that her father demanded them. Parents just don’t understand, do they?
Apparently, neither do the police, the school district, or just about anyone else. There is a time and place to argue that maybe we’ve gone overboard with putting people in the sex offender list (someone arrested for peeing outside? Really?), but this isn’t that place. If Ashley Nieto needs to work out her daddy issues or whatever with her aged husband, that’s her business. The Palm Desert softball team doesn’t need to be a part of it. That’s depressing.