Wednesday, April 23, 2014
By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling firstname.lastname@example.org
OAKLAND -- Wes Littlefield, the former high school football coach charged with assault, struck the player on the helmet with "huge force," according to the player's lawyer.
On Monday, Walter McKee, representing the family of the 17-year-old player who was allegedly assaulted, released a description of the event that led to criminal charges against the former Messalonskee High School football coach.
According to McKee, the strike, delivered with the heel of the hand, was powerful enough to unsnap three of four buckles on the player's helmet.
"The helmet completely turned around so that the player could not even see," McKee said.
During a verbal exchange related to running a football play, "Littlefield hauled back and punched the player with full force with his open palm (lower part forward)," according to McKee in an email.
McKee's account of the blow, which took place during a football practice on Sept. 19, is different from the account offered by Littlefield's attorney, Jason Jabar.
Jabar said after Littlefield was charged that the contact was of a sort that could be considered ordinary in the context of a coach teaching his players.
Littlefield, 44, resigned as head coach on Sept. 20, days before he was charged with assault.
McKee said that he was hired by the family of the victim in response to public statements from Littlefield and his attorney that minimized the contact.
In the days following the incident, Littlefield characterized it as "a little incident with a kid that was blown out of proportion," and Jabar said that the contact did not hurt the player, knock him down or break his facemask.
McKee said that he would not have been hired if Littlefield had accepted full responsibility in his public statements. He said that there has been no discussions between himself and the victim's family about a possible civil suit.
Jabar has said that he thinks the district attorney's office should not move forward with the charges. The decision about whether to file the charges in court will be made after prosecutors review the evidence to decide whether the assault charge is appropriate.
If prosecutors do decide to move forward, the case will be heard in Waterville District Court on Nov. 20.
Prosecutors were unavailable for comment, but Capt. Rick Stubbert of the Oakland Police Department said that it's likely he would have heard about it by now if the charge was not going to court.
"I assume they're moving forward with it, because I haven't heard otherwise," he said.
According to Maine's criminal code, assault occurs when "the person intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury or offensive physical contact to another person."
Assault is a class D misdemeanor and carries a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail and a $10,000 fine. The minimum penalty is a $300 fine.
Littlefield owns a business in Oakland, Littlefield's Gym, where several members of the team are members.
Matt Hongoltz-Hetling -- 861-9287