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Illicit CP - January 2003

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pennsylvania, 17 January 2003

Lawyer: Juvenile court should handle teen paddling case

By Bob Stiles

Two Penn-Trafford High School seniors, who are accused of kidnapping freshmen after school hours and then paddling them, are seeking to have their cases moved to juvenile court.

Attorneys for Dustin Roberts and Charles Brian Dominy, both 18 and of Penn Borough, are claiming that their clients were 17 years old when the alleged crimes began, and as a result the cases should be heard in juvenile court.

Westmoreland County Judge John Blahovec has ordered a hearing to be held at 9 a.m. Jan. 28 to address the attorneys' petitions.

"They were 17 when this all occurred," said Roberts' attorney, Brian Aston. "The nature of the charges, the ages, everything about the case indicates it belongs in juvenile court and not adult court."

Dominy's attorney, county Assistant Public Defender L.A. Smith, couldn't be reached for comment Thursday. He filed the original motion to transfer the cases to juvenile court.

Besides the age of the seniors, Smith notes in the petition that the case should be transferred to juvenile court because the five alleged victims also are juveniles.

In his motion, the attorney also cites the "unique circumstances" involved "horseplay and/or hazing-type activities," and that none of the victims suffered serious injuries.

The two high school seniors had been scheduled to appear yesterday before District Justice Mary DiClaudio, of Jeannette, for preliminary hearings on charges of kidnapping, conspiracy, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, harassment, simple assault and terroristic threats. The hearings were continued because of the attorneys' petitions and Blahovec's order.

Manor police allege that Roberts and Dominy took the younger students to Roberts' home at 706 N. Railroad St. and either hit them with a Ping-Pong paddle or a 2-by-4 piece of lumber. In three cases, the alleged victims told police that they were forced into Dominy's vehicle.

According to court papers, two of the incidents happened in October. Another occurred a few weeks ago. Both Roberts and Dominy turned 18 in November, police said.

The younger students said they were told by the seniors that they were being paddled "because they were freshmen," police stated in a probable cause affidavit.

Authorities said the paddling did not appear to be related to any sporting or other programs in the school district. One of the five students attends Penn Middle School and is a brother of another victim.

Patrolman Nick Dreistadt, the arresting officer, said the incidents were focused on Penn-Trafford ninth-graders who lived in the borough. He said Roberts and Dominy tried to encourage at least one other senior living in Penn to take part. That student refused.

The table-tennis paddle was used for the two incidents in October, police said. During the second of these episodes, the paddle broke. The piece of lumber then was used a few weeks ago on two teens, including one involved in the October incident, police said.

Dreistadt said the "kids really got scared" after the piece of lumber was substituted.

Police said Roberts and Dominy also told some of the younger students to come down to Roberts' home on Jan. 7 to get paddled with the 2-by-4, "or they would get it harder."

None of the victims went to the home, and a parent then contacted authorities.

Both Dominy and Roberts are free on $25,000 bail.

Penn-Trafford Superintendent Dr. Joseph Marasti declined to discuss the two seniors' status at school, but he noted that all the incidents appeared to have occurred off school property.

Images and text copyright 2003 by The Tribune-Review Publishing Co.

blob Follow-up: 21 February 2003: Plea reached in student paddling case

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