The Rapid City Journal was reporting yesterday that a man has finally been named and charged with disorderly conduct after it was reported that someone was hurling racial slurs and beer at a group of native american school kids at a semi-pro Hockey game in Rapid City about a month ago:
The charge, a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine upon conviction, was greeted with anger and disappointment on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
The Rapid City attorney’s office filed a complaint charging that Trace O’Connell, 41, did “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly utter any words or perform any acts which physically abused or threatened any person or persons.”
The group left the game early, during the third and final period of regulation time, following the alleged harassment, which came from a suite above where the students were seated.
“After an extensive investigation by the Rapid City Police Department, a thorough review of the case by my office as well as the Pennington County State’s Attorney Office, the facts support bringing this charge,” City Attorney Joel Landeen said in a news release Wednesday afternoon.
O’Connell’s attorney, Patrick Duffy, of Rapid City, said he apologized “to the children of the Lakota Nation” on behalf of O’Connell for what took place at the game. His client, Duffy said, was given orders not to speak about the incident, “and is absolutely heartbroken over everything that has taken place.”
After an exhaustive investigation, Pennington County State’s Attorney Mark Vargo said the elements for felony child abuse or malicious intimidation could not be established.
“We are bound by the evidence as it emerges in the investigation, not as it is reported in the press,” Vargo said in a prepared statement.
There are a lot of parents of the kids who are up in arms over the degree to which the accused has been charged, many viewing it as being woefully inadequate. But on the flip-side, what kind of crime should it rise to the level of, or what kind of punishment should it entail?
As a parent, I can understand why these parents are not happy. They’re rightfully venting their umbrage over the whole situation. But what you read on the internet & in the newspaper, versus what a prosecutor can gather adequate evidence of are two different things.
What are your thoughts?