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Former coach admits giving alcohol to Clear Spring players

February 15, 2006|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

A former Clear Spring High School volunteer girls soccer coach pleaded guilty Thursday in Washington County District Court to providing three girls with alcohol at his home in September.

Bryan Burton, 39, of 11963 Boyd Road in Clear Spring, pleaded guilty to three counts of furnishing alcohol to a person under 21, a civil citation that carries a maximum $1,000 fine.

District Judge Ralph H. France II ordered Burton to pay $1,500 in fines plus $42.50 in court costs.

The citations stemmed from a Sept. 16, 2005, alcohol party at his home, which resulted in his dismissal as coach and the suspension of 14 girls varsity soccer players from finishing the season.

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Nine girls initially were issued alcohol citations as a result of the party and Burton was charged with nine counts of giving them alcohol. Six charges were dropped Tuesday.

Burton declined to comment after the hearing.

Burton's attorney, John Salvatore, said during the hearing, "He entered pleas of guilty because he didn't want to put them through the rigors of a trial."

Kim Shrader, whose daughter was among those suspended, said she was not satisfied with Burton's punishment.

Her daughter, a senior, only played four games before she was suspended. Not only was her daughter prevented from playing on the field, but she also was prevented from participating in other extracurricular activities, she said.

"It's not equal to what they had to go through ...," she said. "The seniors were done. He took that from them - every single one of these girls."

Several girls soccer players and their parents attended the hearing Tuesday.

Assistant State's Attorney Michele Ferris Hansen said that the Washington County Sheriff's Department went to Burton's house at about 11:30 p.m. after receiving a 911 call, tipping them to a possible underage drinking party.

The citations to which Burton pleaded were connected with three girls, she said.

One of the girls said she arrived at about 6 p.m. Burton was not home, but his wife was, she said. The girl knew to look in a cooler in the spare bedroom for alcohol, she said.

The cooler contained "Mike's Hard Lemonade" and "Boone's Farm," she said.

When Burton returned to his house at about 9 p.m., Hansen said there were several teens at his house and "he did not act surprised that they were there."

She said a couple of the girls said Burton mentioned the party at a soccer practice.

Salvatore said during the hearing that other girls said Burton "was not happy" when he came home and found the party.

"Two said he poured the alcohol out when he got home," Salvatore said.

"The statements were all over the place ...," he said. "He's willing to take the fall on this."

Burton had no prior record, Salvatore said.

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