NEW PORT RICHEY — Mark Parco crashed through some trees and ran down a hill in Port Richey to confront a group of teens. They were playing a game — it was March 4 around 5 p.m. — and one of them was on his property, but ran away. He had yelled at them, according to testimony, and told them to stay away. We're kids, they yelled back, leave us alone.
Parco was charged with misdemeanor battery after authorities determined he was the aggressor when the altercation turned physical.
During Parco's trial Thursday, a 15-year-old boy testified that as Parco approached him, he put up his hands to signal surrender.
But on the stand, Parco said he was the one under attack.
"With all of them surrounding me I figured they were going to jump on me," Parco said. "If he's close enough for me to push he's in my personal space."
The boy testified in court that he fell, but he jumped back and swung, connecting. Parco, 40, staggered. Another boy jumped on Parco's back and tried to choke him. Parco fell forward, prosecutors said, and he reached his hands and grabbed the boy's genitals, and didn't let go for almost a minute.
"So you went to get other people off of you by grabbing the testicles of a child?" Assistant State Attorney Bryan Doeg said. "How would attacking another individual stop these others from attacking you?
"I'm going to do what I have to do to try and make them stop," Parco said. "It was instantaneous and I do what I have to do to survive."
A jury of five women and a man deliberated for less than an hour and found Parco guilty. Before sentencing, the victim's mother wanted to let the courtroom know the amount of pain the incident left her son in.
Parco's attorneys, Greg Barton and Peter Bradshaw, stressed to Pasco County Judge Anne Wansboro that Parco had children at home and a job. The state recommended 90 days in jail. Parco declined to speak.
Wansboro sentenced Parco to 30 days in jail, 11 months of probation, 12 hours of anger management classes and an order to pay more than $1,000 in court costs.
Jon Silman can be reached at (727) 869-6229, Jsilman@tampabay.com or @Jonsilman1 on Twitter.