January 13, 2006

T-Ball Coach To Stand Trial For Telling Player To Injure Teammate

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express (subscribe)

UNIONTOWN, PA--A youth T-ball coach charged with offering to pay a player $25 to injure a teammate who has autism will stand trial after refusing a plea agreement.

Mark Reed Downs Jr., 27, was charged last summer with two counts of criminal solicitation to commit aggravated assault, corruption of minors, criminal conspiracy to commit simple assault, and reckless endangerment.

According to the Associated Press, 7-year-old Keith Reese told police that Downs pulled him aside just before a June 27 playoff game and said he would pay him $25 to hit 9-year-old Harry Bowers Jr. in the face so he wouldn't be able to play. Reese then hit Bowers on the left ear and in the groin.

Downs later told Bowers, who has intellectual disabilities, to "take the night off".

Downs refused to a plea agreement last Thursday, saying that he has done nothing wrong, and that a joking remark he made about paying players to hit an umpire with a ball was misinterpreted.

He is scheduled to stand trial in May.

The youth baseball league has said that Downs would be banned from coaching next year if it is found that he committed a crime.

The boy who threw the ball is not facing charges.

Related: Editorial: One Truth (Beaver County Times Allegheny Times)

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Posted on January 13, 2006