WESTPORT - State police have arrested a Westport man for allegedly striking a young boy at a public event Tuesday afternoon.
Richard F. Jensen, 50, was arrested Sept. 14 and charged with second degree assault, a class D felony, and endangering the welfare of a child, a class A misdemeanor, after police say he hit a six-year-old boy who was participating in a biddy soccer program.
The alleged incident occurred at roughly 3:30 p.m. during the initial stages of a biddy soccer practice held at Camp Dudley's athletic fields.
One of the adults who was present during the alleged incident agreed to recount the events that took place there on condition of anonymity. They are referred to here as "Grambling."
Grambling described the situation as a bizarre and shocking incident that escalated suddenly during an otherwise uneventful soccer practice.
"There's no doubt that he struck a child," said Grambling, noting Jensen was apparently responding to a "low-level exchange" between his child and the victim.
Grambling said Jensen acted as if he thought it was "justified and necessary" to intervene on his child's behalf.
"He was definitely yelling and angry," Grambling said, "He seemed intent on punishing the first grade kid for the apparent shoving of his kid."
Grambling said they did not actually see Jensen strike the boy, but immediately looked when they heard the sound of the hit. It also drew the attention of most everyone else present.
"He was clearly injured and he fell to the ground," they said.
About 25 children were present, said Grambling. Most of them were in grades K-2 and were surprised and confused at the sight of Jensen striking the boy. Roughly eight to 10 adults were there.
"Every adult was immediately between [Jensen] and the kid that he hit," Grambling said, noting how coaches and volunteers tended to the boy with ice packs. "People were downright horrified."
Grambling said they and the other adults worked to keep the other children focused on soccer and the parents of the victim from responding in a way they might regret. No actions were taken against Jensen, who appeared relatively unphased by the situation.
"He proceeded to walk back to his lawn chair, put on his hat, and sat down like nothing had happened," Grambling said.
As for the parents of the victim, Grambling said they did not try to interact with Jensen and were able to talk through their anger and horror regarding the whole situation.
"He and she both kept their distance [from Jensen], called the police, and took care of their son," said Grambling.
Other adults moved the practice to another nearby field further away from Jensen and the victim. Grambling praised them for helping keep the practice going and taking some focus off of Jensen's actions.
"Cooler heads prevailed," said Grambling, "and despite what was obviously a poor choice on the part of [Jensen], there were a number of parents who did the best they could to protect the goal of getting kids to play soccer. It really could have been a lot worse."
At one point, said Grambling, Jensen's son apologized to the victim for his father's actions. Jensen himself, however, showed little remorse.
Police arrived shortly afterward and took statements from the many witnesses. They also questioned Jensen himself, who Grambling said was taken into custody without incident.
State Police Investigator Marshall Rock confirmed that Jensen was cooperative with troopers. He also said there was no indication that Jensen had been under the influence of alcohol.
Jensen was arraigned in Moriah Town Court and released on his own recognizance. With a charge of second degree assault, he could face a maximum of seven years in prison.
Grambling said all the adults who were present are likely to be cooperative with police as Jensen is prosecuted.
"Nobody wants the same thing to happen again," they said, "and nobody is interested in having this fellow present at these events in the future."