Former Dunbar football player gets probation in referee head-butting incident

A former Dayton Dunbar football player who head-butted an official during a game was sentenced to probation.

The football player, who was 17 years at the time of the incident, was sentenced Thursday to probation through July 29, according to Montgomery County Juvenile Court records. The court documents also says the player shall write the victim a letter, submit a DNA sample and shall complete anger management classes.

“The juvenile will pay restitution in the amount of $500 to the victim through the Juvenile Court Work Program,” the document says. “Pursuant (to Ohio law) the victim may also proceed civilly to recover damages sustained as a result of the juvenile’s behavior. Any additional restitution shall be approved and organized through Probation pending final claims.”

The legal troubles began for the juvenile when he headbutted an official during a game in August 2019 at Welcome Stadium against Roger Bacon. The incident was captured on video and shared widely.

Defense attorney Brock Schoenlein told the Dayton Daily News that his client has no prior violent history and has since been in the community for about a year and a half, graduated and enrolled in trade school.

“We have no evidence that the minor presents an ongoing danger to the community,” Schoenlein said.

In 2019, Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. released a statement calling the incident “sickening” and motioned for the case to be moved to adult court. However, the court denied that request over the summer, according to the juvenile court administrator. The youth was found responsible for felonious assault in early December.

Heck released a statement after the sentencing.

“This was an incident that received national attention. This defendant, angry with the referee, headbutted him while wearing a helmet, causing the referee to receive a concussion,” the prosecutor said. “He suffered from headaches for several weeks, lost the ability to referee other games, and other physical impairments from this completely inappropriate and unacceptable behavior.”

He said the prosecutor’s office wanted a tougher punishment in the case.

“(The defendant) was charged with a felony based upon the serious physical harm the victim sustained. After a trial, the court agreed. We believed the defendant should have been confined to a locked facility for some period of time due to the serious injuries the victim sustained and the lingering issues he suffered, as well as to send the message that we will not tolerate such behavior.

“Hopefully, this defendant will take advantage of the ‘sentence’ he received and the services offered to him by the juvenile court and not re-offend,” Heck said.

About the Author