Va. Coach Charged for Allegedly Kicking 12-Year-Old During Practice

Joseph Bernard Hart, 21, of Spotsylvania, charged with felony cruelty and injuries to children; boy's father charged in attack against Hart

Thursday, Oct 18, 2012  |  Updated 11:29 AM EDT
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Va. Coach Charged for Allegedly Kicking Boy

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A volunteer football coach at a Spotsylvania County school has been charged for allegedly kicking a 12-year-old boy -- and the boy's father has been charged with assault and battery of the volunteer coach.

The mother of the boy, Stephanie Smith, told Fredericksburg.com that her son had been sitting on the sidelines during practice Tuesday at Ni River Middle School when he was kicked into the air with no provocation.

Smith said her son blacked out after he fell to the ground, and that once he regained consciousness, he couldn't see clearly at first. She said no one offered him medical care or called the family.

Authorities say that when the boy's father, Maurice Smith, arrived to bring him home from practice, Smith assaulted Hart.

After the incident, the Smith family brought the boy to an emergency room, where he was diagnosed with "obtuse chest wall contusion all of the way around," Stephanie Smith told Fredericksburg.com.

Joseph Bernard Hart, 21, of Spotsylvania, was charged Thursday with a felony cruelty and injuries to children.

Maurice Smith, 43, was charged with assault and battery.

Both turned themselves into the Spotsylvania County Sheriff's Office Thursday morning.

The school, Ni River Middle School, cancelled football practice the day after the incident.

A school spokesperson told Fredericksburg.com that although Hart wasn't employed by the school, he should have undergone the same screening as substitute teachers. This was Hart's first year with the school.

School officials were at Spotsylvania Towne Centre to sign an anti-bullying pledge when Fredericksburg.com contacted them about the incident. October is Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.

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