Coach accused of keeping disabled boy off field
PITTSBURGH -- A T-ball coach allegedly paid one of his players $25 to hurt an 8-year-old mentally disabled teammate so he wouldn't have to put the boy in the game, police said Friday.
Mark R. Downs Jr., 27, of Dunbar, is accused of offering one of his players the money to hit the boy in the head with a baseball, police said. Witnesses told police Downs didn't want the boy to play in the game because of his disability.
Police said the boy was hit in the head and in the groin with a baseball just before a game and did not play.
"The coach was very competitive," state police trooper Thomas B. Broadwater said. "He wanted to win."
Downs has an unpublished telephone number and could not immediately be reached for comment Friday. It was unclear whether he had an attorney.
He was arrested and arraigned Friday on charges including criminal solicitation to commit aggravated assault and corruption of minors. He was released from jail on an unsecured bond.
The alleged assault happened June 27 in North Union Township, about 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, authorities said.
The boy's mother asked state police to investigate her son's injuries because she suspected Downs wanted to keep the boy off the field, despite a league rule that required each player to participate in three innings a game, Broadwater said.
Eric Forsythe, the president of the R.W. Clark Youth Baseball League, said Downs had two daughters on the T-ball team.
League organizers investigated accusations against Downs before the T-ball season ended earlier this month but could not prove that he did anything wrong. If Downs is convicted of any crime, he won't be allowed to be a coach next year, Forsythe said. The league is not affiliated with Little League International.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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