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Charges Dropped for Child Soccer Player

January 8, 2003

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) _ Prosecutors dropped a battery charge Wednesday against a 12-year-old boy who tossed a fellow soccer player to the ground during a game.

Instead of a getting kicked out of the game, Ben Danchak was charged in August with misdemeanor battery after grabbing another player by the collar in anger and throwing him to the ground during a May match at Eagle Ridge Elementary School in Coral Springs.

Ben was originally offered court-sponsored counseling in July but his family rejected the proposal. Chief Juvenile Prosecutor Maria Schneider said the boy was charged after a lower-level prosecutor failed to see a memo she had written saying the charge should be dropped.

During a hearing before Circuit Judge Robert Collins, the Danchaks again declined counseling for the boy and the charge was dismissed.

Schneider said the boy’s actions didn’t rise to the level of criminal prosecution. She called the incident ``something that happened on the field. It wasn’t an extreme act of violence and nobody got hurt.″

David Comras, a Broward County assistant public defender, said the case could have barred his young client from applying for jobs in law enforcement, teaching or others requiring juvenile background checks.

``My opinion is, frankly, that this is something that should be handled by the school, handled at home,″ Comras said. ``I just don’t feel that this was the proper arena for this.″