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Eagan man accused of punching son after basketball loss

  • Article by: PAT PHEIFER
  • Star Tribune
  • December 13, 2011 - 9:38 PM

No one would speculate on Tuesday about what prompted an Eagan man to allegedly punch his eighth-grade son in the face after the boy's team lost a basketball tournament in Lakeville.

Steven O. Wilson, 52, has been charged by the Lakeville city attorney with fifth-degree domestic assault, a misdemeanor, and will likely make his first court appearance next month.

Lakeville police have forwarded the case to Dakota County social services, where child-protection workers can investigate Wilson's son's well-being. Officials with the Eagan Athletic Association are exploring what possible consequences Wilson could face from the youth sports organization.

All said they are perplexed and disturbed by the events that transpired on Saturday at the traveling-league tournament.

According to police, officers were sent to Lakeville South High School shortly after noon Saturday. Witnesses said that in a hallway outside the gym, Wilson used one arm to hold his son and the other to punch him in the face. Other parents intervened to stop the assault before officers arrived, Police Chief Tom Vonhof said. The boy's injuries did not require medical attention.

Lakeville eighth-grade coach Mark Kempton said he did not see the beating but heard about it from parents and saw Wilson's son afterward.

"I was shaken," he said. "It was pretty ugly. I felt terrible for him. It was obvious he took a couple of shots.

"Certainly it was disturbing because we're there for the kids. If this kind of thing happens publicly, you kind of wonder what happens privately," said Kempton, who has coached for about 12 years.

Said Vonhof, "This assault is an example of particularly disturbing adult behavior on so many levels. Parents attending youth sports events have such a great opportunity to be a positive role model for kids and that is clearly not what happened here."

Vonhof said he hasn't seen a similar assault in his 30-plus years of police work.

"This is very, very unusual," he said. "It's unusual for our officers to even be called to something like this."

Other instances of violence at youth sporting events have happened in recent years in the Twin Cities, though.

In February 2010, post-game tensions involving coaches at Eastview High School in Apple Valley erupted in a shoving match between players from there and Eden Prairie, and fans joined in. That same month, a Burnsville youth basketball commissioner suffered a dislocated jaw, a concussion and dental damage after an angry parent attacked him after a sixth-grade tournament game. That parent and his family were banned from participating in activities with the Burnsville Athletic Club.

Ken LaChance, president of the Eagan Athletic Association, said Saturday's events are being investigated.

"If the allegations are true, there is no excuse for the type of behavior displayed by this individual," LaChance said. "I've never seen anything get to this level, and we're obviously very disturbed by it. We have banned folks in the past and obviously this will warrant some kind of reaction, maybe more than that. We've got to check our legal remedies. We're hoping the courts help us."

Wilson was held overnight Saturday in the Dakota County jail before he was released on $10,000 bail. He answered the phone on Tuesday afternoon at his home on Bent Tree Lane but deferred any comment to his attorney, Max Keller. Keller did not return a phone message.

Lakeville City Attorney Elliott Knetsch said that although a no-contact order is usually issued along with misdemeanor charges of domestic assault, court records do not show that one was issued for Wilson.

Staff writer Mary Lynn Smith contributed to this report. Pat Pheifer • 952-746-3284

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