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Little League mom charged in slugfest

by Tom Farmer and Marie Szaniszlo
Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Calling it ``outrageous'' and ``grievous conduct,'' Wakefield police charged a Little League official yesterday with beating and kicking an 11-year-old boy who rooted against her son's baseball team Saturday.

``I'm feeling horrified,'' said the alleged victim's mother, who did not want to be identified. ``I'm so blown away by this whole thing. I thought he was pretty safe to go to a baseball game in the town of Wakefield.''

Valerie A. Yianacopolus resigned from her position yesterday as town Little League secretary. She will be arraigned in Malden District Court June 4 on charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and assault and battery, for allegedly attacking the boy after a game between the major league Marlins and Giants Saturday afternoon at Fernald Field.

According to Police Chief Stephen Doherty and the alleged victim's mother, the boy was rooting for friends who play on the Giants when Yianacopolus, whose son plays for the Marlins, chastised the boy for rooting against her son's team. When the boy went to congratulate his friends on the Marlins after they won the game, he was allegedly attacked by Yianacopolus' 11-year-old son, who reportedly was spurred on by his mother.

``He was giving his friends on the other team high fives and the (Yianacopolus) kid ran up and threw a baseball bat at him,'' said the mother. ``It missed and he punched my son in the face, spit in his face and the whole time, his mother is screaming `Hurt him, kill him,' and `(expletive) this and (expletive) that.' ''

Valerie Yianacopolus then began punching the 11-year-old and kicked him in the face before a Giants coach pulled her off the boy, Doherty and the mother said. Yianacopolus' husband, Glenn, who coaches the Marlins and is a Massachusetts state trooper, apparently did not see the incident, the alleged victim's mother said.

``We don't have any comment right now,'' Glenn Yianacopolus said last night as he and his son prepared to leave their Garden Lane home.

Doherty said police were called to the victim's house Saturday night and are still interviewing witnesses, including a number of children, and did not rule out juvenile charges against Yianacopolus' son.

``This is so outrageous,'' said Doherty. ``This is alleged to be such grievous conduct that we wanted to bring it to court. Parents are supposed to be role models and exhibiting violence at a sporting event is not sportsmanship. This goes beyond the pale of (poor) sportsmanship to the point of a complete lack of common sense.''

The police chief compared the incident to the case of Thomas Junta, who is serving a sentence for manslaughter in connection with the beating death of Michael Costin in a dispute over rough play between their sons at a Reading skating rink.

``This is the hockey dad without the fatality,'' he said.

League vice president and Giants coach Cy Bode said he didn't see Yianacopolus kick the boy but heard her cursing at him.

At a game last night between the Braves and Giants, a boy who witnessed the incident said the alleged victim had been rooting for the Giants in the Marlins' stand.

After the game, he approached Yianacopolus' sonand said something, the boy said. The son spit in his face and then went to his mother and told her about the remark, the boy said. ``She started swearing at (her son), telling him to beat (the alleged victim) up,'' he said. ``. . . (He) started punching him and she started saying, ``Kick his (expletive)! Kick his (expletive)!''

At one point, when the alleged victim was on the ground, the boy said, she pushed him back down and then kicked dirt in his face.

`` `I hope (my son) kicked your teeth in,' '' the boy said he heard her say.

And it wasn't the first time Yianacopolus had proven an overzealous fan, according to another young spectator who witnessed Saturday's alleged attack. ``She yells at people a lot,'' said the 12-year-old boy. ``She pushed me once, too.''

Yesterday, one father called Yianacopolus' alleged behavior ``ridiculous,'' but not representative of the majority of Wakefield parents.

``It's just one bad example,'' he said. ``You would think after what happened in Reading (with the murder of the hockey dad), parents would have learned their lesson.''

Patricia Cronin contributed to this report.

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