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Dunbar student athlete sentenced for assaulting referee, sparks push for legislation

Published By Dayton 24/7 Now on January 28, 2021
Bill Roemer In The News

DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) -- The former Dunbar High School football player who was seen assaulting a referee in a viral video sat in Montgomery County Juvenile Court today. His case has sparked statewide conversation and legislation about how to prevent violence on the field.

The former Dunbar football player was sentenced to 6 months probation, restitution, and post-release control until he’s 21. When the teen’s defense attorney tried to argue that the referee on the field caused the dispute, Judge Hellen Wallace quickly responded.

“Do not victim blame, and I don’t agree any evidence was presented that Mr. Bistrek did anything to cause your behavior,” Judge Wallace stated.

While the referee who was assaulted, Scott Bistrek, is happy with the sentencing today, he says the emotional and physical abuse referees face while doing their jobs is an ongoing trend nationwide.

“Every time I step out on the court I step on the court tonight, it’s going to be on my mind. Like the referee that happened 2 months ago in Texas, same thing,” Bistrek said

Bistrek teamed up with legislators to try and pass House Bill 208, which would make assaulting sports officials a misdemeanor on the first offense and a felony on the second offense. But the Senate didn’t act on passing the bill fast enough, so it has to be reintroduced and is waiting on a new bill number.

“I spoke to a soccer official they are right now 600 soccer officials short what they need to adequate referee games this spring,” State Rep. Bill Roemer said

Roemer is heading this bill. He says sports officials statewide are fed up with the mistreatment prompting shortages in referees across the state. Roemer believes this legislation is what’s we need to start shifting the toxic and competitive sports culture that provokes student-athletes and parents to retaliate.

“Little Johnny at 9 years old is probably not going to be in the NBA or NFL just let the kids go out and have fun,” Roemer said.

Roemer says the bill has bipartisan support, while Bistrek explained that roughly 36 states across the U.S. already have similar legislation passed.

“School bus drivers have more protections than officials do if you attack a school bus driver. It’s a felony,” Bistrek said

Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck sent a statement which says in part,

“Referees are placed in a situation where players, parents, and coaches often become emotionally charged. While the players wear protective gear, referees have no additional protection. 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."

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