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Criminal athlete sentenced to no sports

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An Ohio judge, channeling your parents, punishes a criminal athlete not by grounding him, er, putting him in jail, but by taking away his favorite toy, er, activity. From Cincinnati.com:

Applause turned to gasps in a Butler County courtroom Thursday as a judge announced an unusual punishment for a Middletown track and football star: Dwayne “Deejay” Hunter is forbidden from playing organized sports during his five-year probation for a felonious assault conviction.

“We’re going to see who Dwayne Hunter the person is, not who Dwayne Hunter the star athlete is,” declared Judge Andrew Nastoff, as he said Hunter still has a six-year prison sentence that would be imposed if he violates any conditions of his probation. …

Then he began outlining all the conditions of probation: no sports, not even intramurals; a $500 fine; 500 hours of community service, which can include his helping youngsters in Special Olympics, pee-wee football or other sports; plus 180 days in the Butler County Jail. With credit for time served, he will be released just before Thanksgiving.

Within 30 days of his release, Deejay Hunter must either obtain full-time employment or enroll in full-time schooling, Nastoff ordered, and also must attend counseling to address “personality and relationship issues” outlined in a mental-health evaluator’s report.

…Hunter, who pleaded guilty as charged in July, could have received up to eight years in prison for shooting a BB gun from a vehicle on a Middletown street in January, striking a 15-year-old boy in the face; one of the BB’s struck the victim’s eyelid.

In terms of giving athletes special treatment, Judge Nastoff, in the scheme of Ohio judges, is a whole lot better than the doofus who in 2006 let two high school football players start their sentence after the season was over after they were convicted of nearly killing somebody in a prank. But I still can’t decide whether Nastoff is brilliant or a pompous ass.

Hunter isn’t just some guy who likes sports. He’s a star football player and sprinter who had scholarship offers coming from big-time programs such as Tennessee.

He also isn’t just some guy who did one bad thing. He was arrested in May on charges of assaulting his ex-girlfriend — the same one he beat up last year, a crime that got him a restraining order (filed by the girl’s family) and a conviction in juvenile court. In June he was arrested for the fifth time IN A YEAR on charges of violating that order when the girl’s family spotted her at his house.

The question is, will Hunter be better off without sports? Hunter, who is 19 and would have otherwise been playing college football if not for his troubles, has essentially been barred from pursuing a sports career. Is that right? After all, you don’t see judges telling young, promising, criminal plumbers that they have to put down the pipe wrench as a punishment. Perhaps there is a way of getting Hunter on the right path while letting him pursue what he loves (sports, not getting arrested).

On the other hand, I wonder if the judge, in the back of his mind, thought people were letting Hunter off the hook for too long because of his athletic prowess, and by taking away sports, figures that’s the only shot Hunter has to focus on his problems and turn his life around.

Will it work? It’s tough to say — Hunter still might end up in jail on the charges relating to the beating and the restraining order violation, a sentence that could make Nastoff’s creative sentencing moot. But Nastoff certainly sent a message: he might be giving special treatment to an athlete in his courtroom, but that special treatment is making sure he’s no longer an athlete, and can never get special treatment again.

Written by rkcookjr

September 18, 2009 at 5:25 pm

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