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Parents outraged as Little League feud continues
As Kirkland American Little League gears up for the upcoming end-of-season Tournament of Champions, outraged parents like Don Rohacek are pulling their kids from the game.
After Little League mom Jodi Scheffler, 41, was charged with fourth-degree assault for allegedly grabbing and shoving a 12-year-old player following a May 2 game at Everest Park, she surprised many parents and players when she showed up at Wednesday's game. And then Saturday's.
"Enough is enough," said Rohacek, a dugout coach for the team of the 12-year-old victim. "This whole thing is absolutely disgusting."
The squabble started May 2 when Scheffler approached the boy and his brother after they were allegedly taunting her son on the opposing team. The 12-year-old told police Scheffler grabbed his chin and shoved him backwards. But Scheffler said she only touched the boy's face "without pressure."
Parents, including Rohacek, had gone to the KALL Board, asking members to take immediate action and protect players from any potential harm. In response, the Board suspended the victim's dad - a coach for his son's team - for the duration of the season. In addition, members suspended the boy who was allegedly assaulted and his brother for one game.
"So the League allowed a woman who (allegedly) assaulted a kid in the game," Rohacek said.
At the start of Wednesday's game, witnesses say Scheffler showed up at Everest Park with a group of friends from her team wearing t-shirts that said "Team Jodi." In the dugout, Rohacek said half his team was crying and others were scared.
"For parents to support a woman who was charged with assault is unforgivable," Rohacek said. "It's saying that it's okay for us to beat you up and there's nothing you can do about it. That's the message our kids got and that's why they were so scared."
Scheffler did not return several calls from the Reporter.
Though Rohacek urged the umpire and the KALL Board president to ask the parents to take off the t-shirts, officials didn't stop them, Rohacek said, adding his team lost the game.
During Saturday's game, Rohacek said his son was "nervous" when he saw Scheffler sit down to watch the game. Even more disturbing, Rohacek said, was that Scheffler's kids weren't playing on either of the teams. He also noted that Scheffler did not cause any trouble at the game.
Several parents, including Rohacek, have pleaded with KALL Board to address the issue.
Board President Brian Baldwin told the Reporter that "certain situations are still being researched." He said while the recent events were "unfortunate, it isn't representative of what goes on within Kirkland's Little League community 99 percent of the time."
Baldwin also assured the community that the Board "takes these incidents very seriously and has moved as quickly as possible to provide resolution to these issues."
But not fast enough for parents like Rohacek, who has pulled his "distraught" son from the League. He also addressed the Kirkland City Council during Tuesday's meeting, asking council members to ban Scheffler from all City parks.
Scheffler’s pretrial hearing is set for July 6 at Kirkland Municipal Court. She faces up to a year in jail if she is found guilty.