High School Player Accused of Hitting Referee
GALLUP, N.M. (AP) _ A high school football player accused of tackling a referee who threw him out of a game was arraigned Tuesday on charges that could send him to jail, and the school principal said the FBI may get involved.
Gilbert Jefferson, a linebacker and running back on the Wingate High School football team, remained in jail under $1,000 bond. He was arraigned before Magistrate Karl Gillson, who set the bond amount.
Jefferson, 18, faces charges of battery on a school employee or aggravated battery on a school employee. A spokeswoman in Gillson’s office said a preliminary hearing may be scheduled for Nov. 21.
If convicted of the felony charge, Jefferson could face up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Jefferson is accused of tackling referee Allen Bainter during a game last Friday against Crowpoint High School.
Wingate High School Principal Adam Bull said late Tuesday the FBI may get involved in the case because the school is a Navajo boarding school operated by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.
``We’re a federal school on federal land,″ Bull said. ``There is a good deal of discussion on who should have custody of the young man.″
Bull said he had talked to an FBI agent in Gallup about the jurisdiction question but that no decision had been reached.
Bainter was struck after he ejected Jefferson from the game for unsportsmanlike conduct. Witnesses said Jefferson ran onto the field and tackled Bainter from behind.
Jefferson was arrested at the scene.
The player’s mother, Darlene Jefferson of Chilchiltah, blamed the coaches for playing her son too hard _ on both offense and defense.
``He’s the only one who plays through the whole game,″ she said. ``He was tired.″
She said he is normally even-tempered.
``He’s not the type to throw things around at all. My son’s a good boy.″
She added: ``The ref was picking on my son all that night. He called some things he (Gilbert) did not do.″
Jefferson told sheriff’s deputies he ``blacked out from anger″ and told his mother he didn’t remember running at Bainter.
Bainter was released late Sunday from Rehoboth-McKinley Christian Hospital. His wife, Pat, said her husband was knocked unconscious and suffered a concussion.
Bull said a student who violates school policy normally in entitled to a hearing before a review panel comprised of three students and two adults. The panel hears from both sides, then makes a recommendation to Bull on what, if any, disciplinary action should be taken against the accused student.
Bull said he expects the school to hold such a hearing for Jefferson.
The game was declared a forfeit, giving Crownpoint a 1-0 win. The loss denied Wingate a spot in the state playoffs.
Wingate led 22-18 in the fourth quarter when Jefferson was called for unsportsmanlike conduct.