COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Assaulting a referee would become a crime punishable by a fine and community service hours, under legislation pending in the Ohio House.
The latest version of the bill would make an assault on referees before, during or after a sporting event, or in retaliation for their decisions, a first-degree misdemeanor with an automatic fine of $1,500 and 40 hours of community service.
The bill wouldn't stop prosecutors from pursuing more serious charges based on available evidence, Gongwer News Service reported.
Assaults against referees are on the rise and officials deserve the protections afforded to teachers, administrators and bus drivers, Ben Ferree, with the Ohio High School Athletic Association, told the House Criminal Justice Committee Thursday.
“Protecting officials in Ohio is protecting athletic opportunities for the youth in Ohio, who are at risk of having their games cancelled due to a shortage of officials, through no fault of their own,” Ferree said.