Willard wrestlers sentenced for bullying

TIFFIN Although the pair of high school upperclassman moved out of Huron County, they could not esca
Cory Frolik
May 24, 2010



Although the pair of high school upperclassman moved out of Huron County, they could not escape their past.

It caught up with them on Thursday afternoon when the young men -- a 16-year-old junior and an 18-year-old senior -- appeared separately before Seneca County Juvenile Judge Jay Meyer for the juvenile court's version of sentencing.

In July, the former Willard High School wrestlers entered the equivalent of a guilty plea to disorderly conduct in Huron County juvenile court.

The pleas were in connection to the bullying and hazing of a freshman teammate that occurred earlier this year.

A third wrestler also pleaded guilty to the same charge and was placed on probation by the Huron County courts. The judge also forbade him from wrestling.

In Seneca County court, the junior twisted around in his chair to face the boy he bullied and his family while he read his apology.

"I am sorry I am involved in the mess that's still going on," the junior said. "I lost a great friend and a wrestling partner. I want you to know I did not realize you were being hurt or felt the way you did."

The junior said in January he held the freshman down on school property while another teammate grabbed the boy's testicles through his shorts and then pushed his fingers through the back fabric of his shorts into the boy's rectum.

He then pulled the freshman's shorts down when he stood up.

The junior said he would not have pinned the freshman down if he knew such depraved acts were to come.

Defense attorney Peter McGory said the incident was "life-altering," and his client learned an important lesson about horseplay.

McGory said his client was prepared to make amends, but he urged the court not to forbid him from wrestling. McGory said the junior plans to attend college on a sports scholarships.

Judge Meyer denied the request.

Citing the court's previous tough stances on bullying and hazing, he placed the junior on probation and forbade him from wrestling until his probation concludes.

He also ordered the young man receive a mental health assessment, complete 50 hours of community service and write apology letters to the victim and high school.

He must also finish a 5,000-word essay on the harms of bullying and hazing and have no association with the other defendants and the victim.

About 20 minutes after the junior's disposition, the senior was led into the courtroom.

Weeks before the freshman wrestler was held down and mistreated, the senior sat naked on the boy's chest in the locker room area and put his genitals near the boy's face.

As he did this, another teammate snapped a photograph.

Not long after pleading guilty in this incident, the senior was reprimanded by officials for his antics at football camp, which included sticking a phone receiver in a pair of Speedo underwear he was wearing.

The attorney for the senior also urged the court not to suspend his client from sports.

But unlike in the junior's case, the attorney's arguments convinced the judge.

"To me, this is the death sentence for my client: He's a senior, your honor, and he was a (champion) in wrestling last year and he is doing quite well in football this year," defense attorney Kent Nord said. "My client's only chance of going to college is on a (sports) scholarship."

Judge Meyer said he was not prepared to potentially jeopardize the senior's chances at obtaining higher education.

He did not suspend him from playing sports but ordered consequences similar to the junior's punishments.

The parents of the victim, however, say the young men who bullied their boy have shown no real remorse and deserve to have their dreams of playing sports taken away.

The parents say it's what they deserve because it's what happened to their son. He quit the team and has no plans to wrestle again.