Ray Crawford and another juvenile rubbed their private parts on the victim's forehead, a suit alleges.
By PEGGY SINKOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- A municipal judge pinned a two-day jail sentence on a Howland High School wrestler who he says engaged in an act of intimidation and embarrassment.
Judge Terry Ivanchak told Ray Crawford, 18, of Allenwood Drive, during Friday's sentencing hearing that two days in jail should be a "very intimidating experience." Crawford had entered a no-contest plea in December to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.
According to a civil suit filed in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court last month by the victim and his parents, on Nov. 22 Crawford and another juvenile wrestler punched the victim and rubbed their private parts on the boy's forehead. That suit is still pending.
The juvenile's case is pending in Trumbull County juvenile court.
"It is my hope that once you experience the feeling of intimidation, if you should ever witness such a scenario again you may take the steps necessary to intercede in those actions," Judge Ivanchak said. He also ordered Crawford to pay a $100 fine.
He noted that since the Trumbull County jail is full, Crawford will serve his two days in the Warren Alternative Sentencing Program. Crawford was taken to the program immediately after sentencing. That program is housed in the former city jail.
"It's pretty much a jail," said Greg Hicks, city law director, who prosecuted the case. "There are cells and he can't leave for 48 hours."
Prompting the judge's decision to send Crawford to jail was the fact that the victim left the school district and is now home-schooled.
"Times have changed, the time of team hazing, initiation and/or other acts of rites of passage have passed," the judge said. "Quite frankly I don't feel the actions by you and your associates would fall under any of the above actions. It was an attempt of intimidation and embarrassment."
The judge also stressed that he told Crawford in December that the worst thing that could happen to him was for something bad to happen to the victim.
According to a victim impact statement written by the victim's parents, the boy was harassed at school. The parents believed the harassment was initiated by some of the members of the wrestling team.
"At times, groups of boys stood in the halls, waiting to harass him by calling him names and/or then demonstrating sexual hand gestures as he walked by," the parents' letter states.
The letter also stated that the victim advised school personnel, but the harassment still occurred.
Schools Superintendent John Rubesich said that since a lawsuit is pending he cannot comment.
Hicks said he was disappointed by how Howland schools handled the matter. He said there clearly was improper conduct.
Hicks added that he has no jurisdiction in the school district but is disappointed that it didn't conduct a more thorough investigation.