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Football coach arrested for running prostitution ring

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As the philosopher Big Daddy Kane once said, anything goes when it comes to hos ’cause pimpin’ ain’t easy. It gets a little more complicated if you’re also moonlighting as a volunteer middle school football coach.

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Yeah, this song sounded just as offensive in 1989.

27-year-old Christopher Wayne Foster, a coach in Springdale, Ark., was arrested in nearby Bentonville (Wal-Mart world headquarters) on charges relating to abduction and running a prostitution ring after a 23-year-old woman told police she had jumped from his vehicle. Police said she answered an online ad to work as an administrative assistant. She told police she met with Foster in his car to get money she said she was owed for her work, and she was horrified to learn his line of business — pimp. The woman told police Foster tried to drive away with her and abduct her, whereupon she jumped out of the car.

Apparently Foster had no criminal record before, or at least one that involved sex crimes, because nothing turned up when Central Junior High did his background check. Hey, the background check is a look at your past record, not “Minority Report.”

Police had some helpful advice for anyone not wanting to unwittingly work for a self-styled pimp — make sure your job interview is done at an office. From KFSM-TV in Fort Smith, Ark.:

“Obviously anybody that is asked to come for an interview with somebody who claims to a stock broker or attorney and wants to meet you at a restaurant and not their office, your curiosity should be raised a little bit,” said Chief James Allen.

One more bit of advice: if that person also violates another unwritten rule of job interviews and orders something sloppy like pasta with heavy cream and marinara sauce, just drop your napkin on the plate and walk out that door.

Written by rkcookjr

May 23, 2010 at 10:37 pm

Assistant soccer coach pulls gun on complaining parent

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If you’re ever coached youth sports and dealt with what you felt were unreasonable parent complaints, you might have thought, “Wouldn’t it great if I could pull out a big-ass gun and tell those whiny parents to shut up?”

“Now, ask me again about your son’s playing time.”

Like most questions that begin, “Wouldn’t it be great if…,” the answer is, “No.”

Just ask Fruitport Soccer Club assistant coach James Sherrill, arrested after a game May 15. From WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids, Mich.:

Police said several parents confronted James Sherill on the field after witnessing the coach yelling and swearing at the boys, ages 8-10, that were playing the game.

After the initial confrontation was broken up, it continued after another parent approached Sherill as he was leaving.

That is when police said Sherill pulled a concealed 9mm handgun from its holster. “He said, ‘If you don’t back off I’m gonna shoot you,'” said Fruitport Public Safety Department Chief Paul Smutz.

Police said Sherill then drove himself to the police department to report what happened. He was then arrested for felonious assault.

Hey, at least when he pulled out the gun, Sherrill didn’t swear.

It’s possible Sherrill — who the soccer organization said was not a “rostered coach” (no indication whether he is a parent of a player, or a buddy of the head coach helping out for the day) — could face less punishment than you’d think. He had the gun registered, and it’s unclear whether Michigan’s law banning guns from sports arenas and stadiums applies to parks where youth games are played. Of course, there is the matter of pointing the gun at someone, which is probably not legal anywhere in Michigan, unless the parent confronting him was a deer, and it was in-season.

Another note on this story that might interesting only me, as a person who spent part of his childhood in the Muskegon, Mich., area, where Fruitport is located: Do kids from other towns still call it Fartport?

Written by rkcookjr

May 17, 2010 at 12:47 pm

How SB1070 may ruin Arizona school sports

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For all the talk about the local NBA team’s “Los Suns” statement and possible sports boycotts of Arizona over its new law demanding police play brownshirt with brown people, the Arizona Republic looks at a more salient, everyday sports issue regarding the bill: how is it going to affect high school sports?

That seems like a fairly minor concern, but the story brings home the point that in many areas of Arizona, they’re not worried about fans boycotting games. They’re worried about athletes leaving town and, in effect, boycotting games.

From the Republic:

It’s impossible to accurately measure the influence SB 1070 will have on high school sports in Arizona. But coaches and administrators in school districts that are heavily Hispanic fear a reduction in enrollment this fall as families leave the state, leading to fewer kids playing sports.

“We think it will probably have a chilling effect,” said Craig Pletenik, spokesman for the Phoenix Union High School District, whose enrollment is 78 percent Hispanic. “This law doesn’t just affect those who may not be documented; it impacts a lot of immigrant families with American-born kids.”

Katherine Bareiss, director of community relations for Mesa Public Schools, is concerned that individual schools within districts could take a bigger enrollment hit, thus creating a competitive disadvantage in some sports. Mesa High, for example, is 49.5 percent Hispanic while Mesa Mountain View is only 14.2 percent.

Bareiss says that she knows that illegal immigrants are part of the scholastic and athletic makeup of her school district, but that it doesn’t ask, and it doesn’t want to know. Legally, nobody has to tell.

Under a 1982 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Plyler v. Doe, children of illegal immigrants (or children who are illegal themselves) are protected from discrimination in public schools. The 5-4 decision ruled against a Texas state law that would deny funding education to children of illegal immigrants, and denied the Tyler (Texas) school district’s attempt to collect a $1,000 per-child fee from illegals. The Supreme Court ruled that the state had no compelling interest for discrimination, particularly against children, who presumably had no say in where they lived, and their immigrant status. (The Republic story cites ths case.) Except to hear more about Plyler v. Doe as legal battles over the new Arizona law take shape.

However, schools’ concerns are not just about whether there will be enough athletes for a team once SB1070 is in full effect. They also wonder what will happen to the athletes that remain. Again, from the Republic:

What if, Pletenik said, a bus driver carrying a team to a sporting event makes an illegal left-hand turn and is stopped by a policeman, who, after peering inside, asks players to show proof of citizenship?

I’ll take it one step further. What if the bus driver is asked to show papers? What if the people who maintain the field are asked to show papers? What if the people who clean the gym are asked to show papers?

I don’t want to turn this into the same flip tone that inspired the Naperville (Ill.) Sun to run this headline the day of a large immigration rally in downtown Chicago: “The Day the Lawns Weren’t Mowed.” But what Arizona athletic programs will discover — heck, what all of Arizona will discover, is just how integrated illegal immigrants are into the fabric of life.

You could look at the scenarios drawn up by the educators in the Republic article and say, hey, they’re illegal, right? So what’s the problem? And, technically, yes, they’re illegal, so, yes, they are violating the law. However, the dranconian Arizona law — on top of the state’s lousy economy and little hope of another construction boom anytime soon — could drive out not only illegal Latinos, but legal ones as well.

So that’s why you might see some emptier fields at Arizona high schools very soon. And a lot of white people griping about why the gym isn’t as clean as it used to be.

Written by rkcookjr

May 7, 2010 at 1:04 am

Your kid's sports league might be in the crosshairs of the IRS

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If your child’s league disappears next year, or asks for a lot of extra fees, or releases its own version of Willie Nelson’s “The IRS Tapes,” here’s why (from the New York Times):

As many as 400,000 nonprofit organizations are weeks away from a doomsday.

At midnight on May 15, an estimated one-fifth to one-quarter of some 1.6 million charities, trade associations and membership groups will lose their tax exemptions, thanks to a provision buried in a 2006 federal bill aimed at pension reform. …

The federal legislation passed in 2006 required all nonprofits to file tax forms the following year. Previously, only organizations with revenues of $25,000 or more — or the vast majority of nonprofit groups — had to file.

The new law, embedded in the 393 pages of the Pension Protection Act of 2006, also directed the Internal Revenue Service to revoke the tax exemptions of groups that failed to file for three consecutive years. Three years have passed, and thus the deadline looms.

Unless your league president has watched the books closely, it might be time for that person to break out the guitar and start singing, “Who’ll Buy My Memories?”

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Written by rkcookjr

April 23, 2010 at 12:10 am

You can use social media to get somebody else's kid kicked off the team!

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After a federal judge refused to overturn the school’s honor code, a 16-year-old Yarmouth (Maine) High lacrosse player decided not to fight her three-week suspension, and her school-mandated alcohol counseling, after the administration got its hands on Facebook pictures of her holding a can of Coors Light. (If you’re a beer snob like me, you might argue that Coors Light doesn’t count as beer, but for the sake of argument we’ll assume it does.)

You should be able to hold this whole truck’s contents in your hands and not violate an athletic honor code, because this truck contains no alcohol.

The question I haven’t seen answered is, how did the school get those pictures? Is the administration spending late nights, like creeps, searching its students’ Facebook profiles? Or, perhaps, would a campaign to besmirch the previously unsmirched be a little more orchestrated?

I’m not saying it happened in this case. But I am saying that in a social media age, if you’re a parent, or a player, wanting to attack some rival for getting more playing time/recognition/tail, what better way to eliminate your rival without the use of a hitman than to forward, surreptitiously, a Facebook photo of that rival doing something that violates the school’s athletic honor code, a document more sacrosanct than the U.S. Constitution?

This is not meant to cast aspersions on anyone involved in the Yarmouth case. After all, the 16-year-old had a beer, or something that had legal standing as beer, in her hand during the course of the lacrosse season in a clear violation of the school’s honor code, the law, and good taste. But if you want to fight evil with evil, it would be very, very easy to do.

In just about every high school since about forever ago, athletes and their parents have been required to sign honor codes that require action (suspension from the team, public apology, death by firing squad in the dean’s office) for various acts of moral turpitude and/or substance abuse (no tobacco, drinking, drugs, public sex with a farm animal) while the sports was in season. In my faint recollections of high school in the pre-Internet era, athletes (except for me, because I was a dork) engaged in all sorts of acts of dishonor, but the school never acted on anything unless something very public happened, like an arrest or sex with a farm animal in the parking lot of a Village Pantry.

The beauty of social media is the definition of “very public” has grown very much. Given the undiscriminating nature of teens’ party picture-taking, it would be fairly easy to pass around an incriminating photo of an athlete. For example, the two female athletes in Churubusco, Ind., who got put through the wringer, including having to explain themselves to an all-male panel, when someone got MySpace photos, off a private setting, of them licking phallus-shaped lollipops.

The ACLU took that case on, citing privacy issues, particularly the privacy in have private settings on stupid photos. So why didn’t it get involved in the Yarmouth case? I’ll surmise that the Indiana case was handled in a much more ham-handed way — the behavior happened over the summer, not during the season, and it didn’t necessarily appear to violate the school’s honor code. (Churubusco High cited a state athletic association rule as its reason for suspending the girls for a year for their Popsicle Twins imitation.) It’s harder to fight a case where the young athlete was caught doing something illegal during the course of the season.

In the Churubusco case, it was never established how the administration there got pictures that were supposed to be on a private MySpace site, for whatever that is worth. In this case and in the Yarmouth case, maybe there were concerned citizens fighting for the honor of the honor code who thought it was important their schools see what was happening.

But that seems a little weird to me. Not to defend any teenager doing something illegal or dangerous captured for posterity, but I have a hard time imagining somehow forwarding social media photos just because someone takes the honor code so seriously.

So if you’re a young athlete, I would recommend, for many reasons, you stay on the straight and narrow. And that if you don’t, make sure no one takes a picture of you. Because you don’t know whether your beer on Saturday ends up as an attachment in the principal’s email on Monday — especially if there’s someone out there who has a problem with you.

Written by rkcookjr

April 15, 2010 at 2:30 am

God and cheerleader at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High

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If you attend one school board meeting this year, it looks like the one to attend will be Tues., Oct. 13’s regularly scheduled session of the Catoosa County School Board in Ringgold, Ga. That’s because the meeting will feature a large crowd of people always known to liven up an otherwise staid board or town hall meeting — religious fundamentalists.

They’re descending on Ringgold because over the last few weeks, a story has developed over Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High’s varsity football cheerleaders writing Bible verses on the huge tissue-paper poster the players run through for their spirited pregame entry, instead of their writing something less controversial like “Go Warriors,” “We’re 14th in the State in SAT Scores,” or “Meet Me After the Game for a Hand Job.”

3921854829_4e2645cf92How to strip a Bible verse of its context. The 10th chapter of Ezra starts like this: While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites—men, women and children—gathered around him. They too wept bitterly. Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, one of the descendants of Elam, said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us. But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel. Now let us make a covenant before our God to send away all these women and their children, in accordance with the counsel of my lord and of those who fear the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law. Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.” So Ezra rose up and put the leading priests and Levites and all Israel under oath to do what had been suggested. And they took the oath.

This case of religion in public school sports is a bit of an oddball because the local resident who pointed out the possible illegality of the sign was not a hard-core atheist or someone else with a religious bone to pick. It was a parent who had taken a law class at the Jerry Falwell-founded Liberty University, and who had picked up the lesson through that religiously sympathetic institution that the cheerleaders’ signs could violate separation-of-church-and-state laws and be potentially divisive in the community.

Also a bit of an oddball, the superintendent, instead of sending the Holy Wrath of the Lord on all who would desecrate the cheerleaders’ sign, ordered no more Bible verses on the field. Denia Reese’s statement is a testament, no pun intended, to how a school official can grudgingly balance her personal beliefs and the rights of others:

“I regret that we had to ask the LFO cheerleaders to change the signs used in the stadium prior to football games. Personally, I appreciate this expression of their Christian values; however, as Superintendent I have the responsibility of protecting the school district from legal action by groups who do not support their beliefs.”

On the surface, the upcoming school board meeting appears to be a tribute to Christian passive-aggressiveness. From the Facebook page of those organizing a rally at the meeting:

This is not a political rally! This is simply a call to Christians to come out and pray for our school system and leaders who are making decisions. Also, to show our support for the sign.

We are going to continue to pray that some how the cheerleaders will get their signs back!

Several members of the community will be speaking to the board at 6 PM during public participation. We will gather for prayer outside of the board room at 7 PM.

Still, the way any public meeting goes, whether it’s about religion or not, there should be some fire and brimstone brought to the microphone stand. Hopefully, the school board stands firm. Like the superintendent, it can be as personally sympathetic as it wants. It can talk about what a good Christian community the school represents. It can talk about how the hand of Satan is behind the sign being taken away. But what the school board can’t do is give its blessing, no pun intended, that the sign return.

The superintendent set up a compromise where a big ol’ Bible verse sign can be put up before any steps onto school grounds to see a game. Hey, that’s great. But she and the board knows that if that sign goes back up on the field, a lawsuit is sure to follow, especially now that this case has gotten nationwide attention. It’s the same old story — nobody is stopping you from praying privately and on your own time that Jesus helps you smite the opposition. Just don’t make everyone pray with you.

Written by rkcookjr

October 12, 2009 at 12:14 am

Why a Kentucky football coach faces even more charges in player's death

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When I first wrote on this site about former Louisville high school football coach Jason Stinson, indicted by a grand jury for reckless homicide for the heat-related death of one of his players after a practice, I said I didn’t think he would be convicted. Even if the evidence player-thumbshows Stinson didn’t allow his players water on a 94-degree heat-index day, or even if the evidence doesn’t prove the defense’s contention that Adderall and creatine (both can cause dehydration) contributed to the death of 15-year-old Max Gilpin (left), I just figured it would be difficult for a jury to send a coach to jail. (Stinson is believed to be the first high school coach ever to get charged in connection with a player’s overheating death.)

Then, earlier this week, I wasn’t so sure. Three weeks before his scheduled Aug. 31 trial date, and nearly one year to the day Gilpin collapsed during a Pleasure Ridge Park High preseason football practice, a grand jury came back with a second charge against Stinson: first-degree wanton endangerment.

Under Kentucky law, reckless homicide, a Class D felony, is when a person “with recklessness” causes the death of another person. First-degree wanton endangerment, also a Class D felony, is when a person “under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life … wantonly engages in conduct which creates a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to another person.” I spell this out because I had never heard of wanton endangerment until this case. Presumably, the wanton endangerment charge is related to Stinson’s alleged conduct in running end-of-practice sprints in the heat while also denying his players water, accusations Stinson denies.n1604648107_131547_4523

So if a grand jury is adding charges, maybe I’m wrong in my assertion that Stinson, who has great support from many in his community and fellow football coaches (on the right is an image taken from a Stinson support Facebook page), will not be convicted, though it’s safe to say his coaching career might be done. Stinson stepped down after his first and only season after his original indictment in January).

To get a best guess of what might be going on, and with Jeffrey Toobin out of my budgetary range, I did a quick email interview with Scott C. Byrd, a Louisville criminal defense attorney who contributes to the Kentucky Court Report blog.

T/S: I see that often someone indicted for reckless homicide is also indicted for wanton endangerment. Is that what usually happens? If that’s the case, does the additional charge mean anything?

Byrd: This happens sometimes, depending on the prosecutor and the circumstances of the alleged crime. If the jury convicted on both charges, recommended the maximum five year sentence for each, and ran the sentences consecutively, the defendant could theoretically get a 10-year sentence instead of the maximum five years for the reckless homicide.

T/S: Does the additional charge give prosecutors an out in case jurors aren’t comfortable with convicting someone on reckless homicide?

Byrd: I believe that is exactly what the prosecution is thinking. Given what I’ve learned about the case, I don’t think jurors will believe Stinson caused the young man’s death. However, I do think they will be angry with his conduct if they believe he denied the kids water. If this happens, I can see a conviction for wanton endangerment and an acquittal for the reckless homicide charge.

T/S: Should we believe that the prosecution has something else up its sleeve, and that the wanton endangerment charge means it believes Stinson’s conduct was even worse than it already thought?

Byrd: I don’t think this is the case. I know all the attorneys involved, and I truly believe this is nothing more than a political move by the Commonwealth’s Attorney to avoid a high-profile acquittal. It will certainly be easier to win a conviction for wanton endangerment rather than one for reckless homicide.

So perhaps my gut instinct was correct that a jury would have trouble convicting Stinson on reckless homicide charges. There’s something very strong about that word, “homicide.” Even if every juror had an issue with a past football coach who was a dick, homicide seems like a tough yoke to hang on somebody with a whistle and a clipboard. But wanton endangerment? Yes, if Stinson denied his players water, the word “endangerment” seems to fit better. Today, Stinson’s attorneys are scheduled to ask a judge to drop the wanton endangerment charge.

Meanwhile, the ghost of Bear Bryant states he is glad the Jefferson County, Ky., prosecutor wasn’t in Junction, Texas, in 1954, even if no one dropped dead after one of most infamous, heat-scorching practices.

Written by rkcookjr

August 14, 2009 at 2:33 am