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Why no deputy at football game where mom was hurt?

DUNEDIN — No one can say whether the presence of a sheriff's deputy would have stopped one mother from battering another at a youth football game last month.

But the Suncoast Youth Football Conference, which requires that a law enforcement officer provide security at games played by older children, has fined the team that failed to make sure a deputy was there.

Still in dispute is who specifically was responsible.

Lenny Anderson, president of the Dunedin Junior Falcons, said the Falcons had arranged before the season to have all of its home games covered by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. He blamed the absence of a deputy at the Sept. 25 game on a "miscommunication'' between the team and the Sheriff's Office.

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office tells a different story.

The first time this year the Falcons contacted the agency was on Sept. 27, according to spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda.

That was two days after the mother was beaten.

• • •

Anderson related the "miscommunication'' involving the Sept. 25 game to an earlier game that was moved to another field because of rain. He said someone from the team, he doesn't know who, called to cancel the deputy who was to attend the earlier game. The Sheriff's Office must have misunderstood that the request was to cancel just the one game and not subsequent ones, Anderson said.

"We called to cancel it because we had to go to (another field) because our field was flooded out and we thought it was transferred," Anderson said. "I, personally, I'm not really sure how it all happened."

Anderson is also president of the Suncoast Youth Football Conference, of which the Falcons are a member. He reported on the incident to the conference's executive board more than a week ago, according to board secretary Jacque Avise.

Anderson said then that "he canceled them for that day, but the Sheriff's Office canceled him for the whole season, by mistake,'' Avise said.

"They sent him a refund check," Avise recalled Anderson saying.

The Sheriff's Office disputes that, too.

"We have no record that we've refunded him any money," Barreda said.

She said Sheriff's Office records show that Anderson first called on Sept. 27 to request a deputy at games scheduled for Oct. 2 and Oct. 16.

Barreda said Anderson paid the Sheriff's Office $370 for each of the two October games, and a deputy was at the Oct. 2 game at Dunedin High.

Anderson said the Suncoast Football League grievance committee fined the Falcons $250 for not having a deputy at the Sept. 25 game. That committee is made up of the board of directors, Avise said. The fine has been paid, Anderson said.

The Times asked Anderson to comment on the discrepancy between his version of what happened to the deputy and the accounts from Avise and the Sheriff's Office.

"Does it really matter at this point? We were fined for not having security and it's been taken care of," Anderson said. "You put such a bad name on youth football in Pinellas County."

• • •

Avise says the conference requires deputies at games involving older children for multiple reasons, primarily security. Responsibility for arranging a law enforcement officer falls on the home team, the Dunedin Junior Falcons in this case.

"Whether having the police officer there may have prevented what happened (on Sept. 25), who knows?" Avise said. "I don't know the answer. I don't think that anyone can say … It's just unfortunate that sometimes people behave badly."

According to Sheriff's Office reports, 30-year-old Miranda Gregory of St. Petersburg was attacked in the parking lot of Dunedin High School about 8:30 p.m. Sept. 25 after the end of the varsity peewee game between the Dunedin Junior Falcons and the visiting Northeast Bandits. The conference is not affiliated with the high school.

Gregory's son plays for Northeast. Her accused assailant is the mother of a Falcons player.

Gregory was hospitalized with injuries that included a large cut on the back of her head and a swollen eye. A footprint on her shirt led deputies to believe she had also been kicked. She was treated at a local hospital and released.

Deputies arrested Chrishona D. Burrowes, 31, of 1952 Palm Drive in Clearwater on a charge of aggravated battery.

Neither Gregory nor Burrowes returned calls requesting comment.

"It was just a miscommunication …," Anderson said of the deputy's absence at the game at which Gregory was hurt. "It was a one-game, little mistake, and it's been taken care of."

Rita Farlow can be reached at farlow@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4157.

Why no deputy at football game where mom was hurt? 10/16/10 [Last modified: Saturday, October 16, 2010 2:08pm]
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