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Jury Convicts T-Ball Coach Of Offering Player $25 To Injure Teammate
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 14, 2006

UNIONTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA--A jury has convicted a youth T-ball coach of offering to pay a player $25 to injure a teammate that has autism and intellectual disabilities.

Mark Reed Downs Jr., 29, 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.

Eight-year-old Keith Reese testified this week that Downs pulled him aside just before a June 27 playoff game and offered to pay him $25 to hit 9-year-old Harry Bowers Jr. in the face so he wouldn't be able to play. Reese said that after he hit Bowers in the groin, Downs pulled him aside and told him to hit Bowers harder.

"I went back out there and threw the ball and hit him in the ear," Reese told the court.

Downs denied the charges.

On Thursday, a jury convicted Downs of corruption of minors and criminal solicitation to commit simple assault. The judge declared a mistrial on the endangerment charge after the jury deadlocked on that charge. The jury acquitted Downs on the criminal solicitation to commit aggravated assault because the victim was only bruised and did not "suffer serious bodily injury".

At his October 12 sentencing, Downs could face a possible maximum sentence of five years in prison, but will most likely receive probation because he has no criminal record.

His attorney promised to appeal.


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