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New Kids on the Block Rack Up Offenses

September 10, 1990

BOSTON (AP) _ New Kids on the Block are fast shedding their squeaky-clean image as an All-American pop group as they make headlines over an increasing number of scuffles.

New Kids’ lawyer, Len Lewin, planned a trip to the West Coast today to talk to members of the group about their offstage behavior.

″Some program is going to be established to change things around as to how they conduct themselves. I think something has to be done,″ Lewin said. ″We’re going to sit down with parents, kids, management, the whole team.″

The Boston Globe published an editorial suggesting that New Kids on the Block, while ″craftily marketed as clean-cut, churchgoing inner-city youths,″ are actually ″success-spoiled youths who badly need disciplining.″

In the past month, the quintet of teen-agers from a working-class background in Boston’s Dorchester section and their retinue were involved in at least six violent incidents. No charges have been filed against the group.

In the most recent incident, New Kid Donnie Wahlberg, 20, allegedly scuffled with a 20-year-old Harvard student over an airline seat Sept. 2 on a flight from Salt Lake City to Atlanta. Wahlberg allegedly punched Benjamin Dattner as some of the group’s entourage held him down.

The two exchanged blows after Wahlberg poked Dattner in the eye, witnesses said. Dattner was taken to a hospital for a scratched cornea and bruises and was released.

The group’s tarnished image has left some of its legions of young fans, or ″blockheads,″ a little disillusioned.

″I’m not sure I’m liking them anymore because they don’t act like they used to,″ Kristin Bothwell, 10, of the city’s Roxbury section, said last week. ″People are getting into fights and they might start a big bad fight.″

Wahlberg has been the group member most involved in the incidents. Last month, he and his bodyguard allegedly tussled with Georgia Tech students in Atlanta. The same night, group member Jordan Knight was accused of hitting a 21-year-old woman in a bar, and his bodyguard was accused of beating up two men.

In Massachusetts, two of Wahlberg’s brothers were arrested in front of his home in suburban Braintree during a fight. A man from Foxboro said last month he was beaten up by relatives of group members at a Quincy nightclub.

Lewin said he was still trying to gather facts about the latest incident. He said some of the Kids’ trouble ″may just come with the territory.″

″Is there anything you can do about it? I’m not so sure,″ he said.

The group has been enormously popular, mainly with teen-agers and pre- teens. Its tours have been marked by sellouts and pressing throngs. Two April concerts in England led to the hospitalization of several frenetic fans, and first-aid had to be administered to hundreds of youngsters.

At this year’s American Music Awards, New Kids won the favorite pop-rock album trophy for their ″Hangin’ Tough″ LP and were named favorite pop-rock group.

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