An intense youth soccer game boiled over Sunday afternoon in Fairfax. The result is that a Northern Virginia man faces a simple assault charge after he rushed onto the playing field fearing for the safety of his 14-year-old son and allegedly struck the face of a 15-year-old boy on the opposing team.
John Harn, 45, of Herndon, is scheduled to appear June 11 in the General District Court in Fairfax. He faces a misdemeanor charge that, a police spokeswoman said, carries a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail. Officer Judy Dailey of the Fairfax County Police said the warrant for Harn's arrest was requested by Michael Kokot of Freehold, N.J., the father of the boy who allegedly was struck.
Reached yesterday, Harn said he entered the playing field at Robinson High School because he thought his son was being threatened by members of the opposing team.
Harn said: "The only thing I want to emphasize is that I was sincerely concerned about my son's safety. I was afraid he was going to be seriously hurt. . . . I pushed my son off the field. They were going after him. I was trying to bring reason to the situation. What happened was unfortunate."
Dailey said the police report indicated Brian Kokot was struck in the mouth by Harn and suffered a swollen lip. However, Bruce Brill, the director of the Braddock Road Youth Club Al Dougherty Memorial Tournament, said X-rays taken at Commonwealth Hospital in Fairfax showed Brian Kokot had a hairline fracture under the nose and a mild concussion. Brill also said Kokot returned to tournament competition Monday.
Michael Kokot, co-coach for the Freehold (N.J.) Dynamos, said his son suffered a broken nose as a result of the blow. "It was a punch," Kokot said. " He also has a sore shoulder because Harn hit him there on the follow-through.
"I've been involved with soccer for a lot of years and I've never seen a parent come on to the field. The man wasn't where he was supposed to be. If he was, it would never have happened."
The incident occurred in the latter part of a game between the Dynamos, a team of youths born in 1971, and the Braddock Road Youth Club Sandpipers, a team of youths from the Northern Virginia area who were born in 1972. The game was terminated by the referee immediately after the incident occurred, with the score tied at 1-1.
The police report said that Brian Kokot told Harn that parents weren't allowed on the field and "started yelling" at Harn when he wouldn't leave.
Harn said: "There were probably eight people from the opposing team surrounding me." He said he was shoved from behind. He declined comment on any other details.
Brill said he did not see the incident, but after reading the postgame report filed by the field coordinator and signed by both coaches and the referee and after speaking with the involved parties on both teams, he described the following scene:
"Braddock Road had the ball and they were heading toward the goal area to shoot. The player with the ball was taken down to the ground. The referee blew the whistle to stop play. The referee was well on top of the situation, but he was back at midfield.
"He was blowing the whistle when a shoving match took place. A parent from Braddock Road Harn was concerned because his son was involved in the shoving match. Harn felt that because there were so many players from the opposing team around his son and because the referee was about 20 yards away, he should step in to help his son."
Brill said his reports indicated that the parent was struck from behind by a player from the other team. He said the parent, in reaction, turned and as he turned, his hand hit a Freehold player in the face. "It was over in a second," Brill said.
Brill said that 180 teams from 11 states and Canada competed in the annual Memorial Day weekend tournament, which includes boys and girls aged 9 to 19 and is sponsored by the Braddock Road Youth Club. He said that the Braddock Road team of youths born in 1972 is "state cup champions and they asked to play up against youths one year older for better competition in the tournament and I allowed it."
He said the Braddock Road team later lost in the semifinals, and the Freehold team advanced to the finals, but lost to a team from Alexandria.
"I apologized to Michael Kokot, the father at least five times for all of the parents and for the Youth Club. I apologized to the son, too. The son looked at me and kind of smiled because he knew I really felt bad," Brill said. "Of the 425 games played this weekend, I'd say that in 424 of them, the kids had a great time."
Washington Post Staff Writer Patricia Davis contributed to this report.