BRANCHBURG TOWNSHIP, NJ (Somerset County) – A 72-year-old umpire that was assaulted by a coach
James Neely, the umpire, filed a lawsuit against Jerry Otero, the coach who struck him, the team who employed Otero, and the USABL who ran the tournament, seeking damages for injuries sustained in the attack, according to Andrew L. O’Connor, who is Neely’s attorney.
Neely suffered a concussion and multiple fractures to his jaw, which required that his jaw be wired shut, and likely will require further surgery to correct, O’Connor told RNJ.
“People’s behavior at youth travel sports have become completely out of control. Now we will seek justice for Mr. Neely in the courts, and make sure the kids at all sport events are protected,” O’Connor said.
On June 4, at around 8:08 p.m., police responded to White Oak Park for a report of an assault upon an umpire. Upon their arrival, officers were told by bystanders that the suspect had left the park prior to their arrival, authorities said.
Officers spoke with Neely who was bleeding from the mouth and he told officers that while umpiring a 13U youth baseball game he ejected one of the coaches for using foul language. The victim told the officers that the coach, who was later identified as Jerry Otero, 40, of Staten Island, NY, punched him on the left side of his face, authorities said.
Otero was charged on June 21 with third-degree aggravated assault, and fourth-degree assault at a youth sports event. He was then lodged in the Somerset County Jail pending a detention hearing, authorities said.
“Our focus has to be the kids. We need to ensure that youth sports remain a place for them to learn and grow in a safe environment. I hope to be out there on the field one day soon for the kids,” Neely said.