By Patricia A. Miller
A former Berkeley Township Little League coach who pleaded guilty to assaulting a youth umpire earlier this year has received probation for the incident and will be allowed to enter a pre-trial invention program.
Thomas M. Murphy pleaded guilty in Ocean County Superior Court to assault at a youth sporting event, a fourth-degree crime, according to the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.
The State agreed to recommend a probationary term with strict conditions. They include: no contact with the victim, letters of apology to both the victim and the Berkeley Little League, community service, prohibition against coaching during any period of supervision.
Murphy will also be allowed to apply to the Pre-Trial Intervention Program.
The incident occurred at 7:15 p.m. on May 2, at the Berkeley Little League complex on Moorage Avenue, during a game involving children ages 10, 11 and 12.
Police responded to a report of an assault involving a coach allegedly striking an umpire during a game, after a dispute over a call.
"The coach was aggressive and the umpire made a decision to eject the coach," according to the prosecutor's office. "At that time, the coach struck the umpire in the side of the head near his right ear, causing pain and redness to that area."
Murphy did not know the victim was a juvenile at the time of the assault. He will return to court on Jan. 6 to hear the outcome of his PTI application, the prosecutor's office said.
Officer Michael O'Connor arrested Murphy, 43, Yaffa Drive, at his home after the game. He was charged with simple assault and assault at a sporting event in the presence of children under 16 years old, Detective Sgt. James J. Smith said at the time of the arrest.
"The 17-year-old was a umpire who made a call that the coach did not agree with," Smith said then. "The umpire ejected the coach from the game. As the two were walking away, the coach smacked him on the ear."
The incident took place in front of 12-year-olds at the Mets versus Dodgers game, Smith said.
Berkeley Little League President Robert J. Everett Jr. has called Murphy's actions "inexcusable."
"I can assure you that for as long as I am president this person will NEVER be appointed again, in case there was any doubt," he said shortly after the incident. "Not only is this an isolated incident that will NOT be tolerated, it will be dealt with quickly and appropriately."
"He is permanently suspended from coaching and banned from our activities pending his appearance before our board for a disciplinary hearing," Everett said tonight.