Youth Coach To Stand Trial

Youth baseball coach Mark R. Downs Jr. walks to a preliminary hearing in Uniontown, Pa., on Thursday, July 28, 2005. Downs on Thursday was ordered to stand trial for allegedly paying one of his players $25 to hurt a 9-year-old mentally disabled teammate.
AP
A youth baseball coach on Thursday was ordered to stand trial for allegedly paying one of his players $25 to hurt a 9-year-old mentally disabled teammate.

Eight-year-old Keith Reese testified at a preliminary hearing that T-ball coach Mark R. Downs Jr. made the offer before a June 27 playoff game.

"He told me if I would hit (the teammate) in the face, he would pay me $25," Keith said.

Reese said he had never before warmed up for a game with his mentally disabled teammate, Harry Bowers. But on that day, he did.

His first toss hit Bowers in the groin area. As the boy walked away, he said his coach told him to "go out there and hit him harder."

"So I went out and hit him in the ear," Reese said.

Downs, 27, will be arraigned Sept. 15 on two counts of criminal solicitation to commit aggravated assault and one count each of corruption of minors, criminal conspiracy and recklessly endangering another person.

A motive for the beaning was not discussed in court Thursday. But the injured boy's mother had told police that the coach looked for ways to keep her son out of games because he was not as good as other kids.

Reese's father, Keith Reese Sr., testified that the coach admitted after the game to offering his son money to hurt the other boy.

"He told me, 'I did something ignorant. I told (Keith) I'd give him $25 to hit Harry in the face to take him out of the game,"' Reese said.

Downs' attorney, Thomas W. Shaffer, denied the allegations.

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com