The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Spotsy schools probe allegation against coach
UPDATE: The Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office has charged the volunteer assistant coach at Ni River Middle School with a felony, according to Sheriff’s Capt. Mike Harvey.
Joseph Bernard Hart, 21, of Spotsylvania, was charged with felony cruelty and injuries to children, Harvey said. During practice on Tuesday, Hart allegedly kicked a 12-year-old football player, knocking him to the ground, according to the Sheriff’s Office investigation.
In addition, the Sheriff’s Office has charged the boy’s father. Maurice Smith, 43, allegedly punched Hart when he confronted him Tuesday evening about his son’s situation, according to Harvey. Smith is being charged with assault and battery.
Assault and battery is a misdemeanor carrying a maximum 12-month jail sentence and $2,500 fine.
Cruelty and injuries to children is a felony punishable by up to five years and and a $100,000 fine.
Neither Smith nor Hart had been arrested as of this morning when Harvey released the information.
Harvey said “this case had a swift resolution due to the cooperation between school administration and the Sheriff’s Office.”
Hart has resigned his position as a volunteer coach and his role as a volunteer with the division has been “terminated,” according to a statement issued this morning by school division spokeswoman Rene Daniels.
In addition, Hart was told he is not allowed on the grounds of any county school, Daniels said.
By PAMELA GOULD
Spotsylvania County authorities are investigating an allegation that a volunteer assistant football coach at Ni River Middle School kicked a seventh-grader during practice on Tuesday.
Stephanie Smith said her 12-year-old son, Devon, was on the sidelines of the football field when a volunteer assistant coach kicked him into the air with no provocation.
She said he blacked out after he dropped to the ground, and when he regained consciousness he couldn’t initially see clearly.
She said no one sought medical care for her son or notified her of the incident.
She learned about it from her son when she picked him up from practice Tuesday evening.
She said she could tell something was wrong. The family immediately took the boy to a hospital emergency room.
She described Devon as a straight-A student who is 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs 90 pounds.
He underwent tests and was released with a diagnosis of “obtuse chest wall contusion all of the way around,” Smith said.
He stayed home from school Wednesday taking narcotic pain medication, his mother said.
October is national anti-bullying month, and top school officials were at Spotsylvania Towne Centre to sign an anti-bullying pledge when contacted by the newspaper about the incident.
School Board member Dawn Shelley, in whose district the school is located, said she’s disturbed by the allegations.
“If that is actually what happened, it’s unacceptable. It’s appalling,” Shelley said.
Schools spokeswoman René Daniels said the school division’s executive director of instruction, Stan Jones, and Ni River Middle School Principal Veronne Davis were looking into the incident. The school cancelled football practice Wednesday.
They confirmed that the investigation revolved around a volunteer assistant coach who is in his first year helping with the football team.
The team has two paid coaches and one volunteer, school staff said.
Although the man is not a school division employee, Daniels said he should have undergone the same screening as substitute teachers, which includes a criminal history check.
The Spotsylvania sheriff’s deputy assigned to the school was investigating the allegations on Wednesday.
Smith said she was shocked by what she understands happened to her child.
“When I drop my kids off at school, I shouldn’t have to worry about them getting drop-kicked by a student, and certainly not by a staff member,” she said.