That bites: Fluco convicted in girls soccer incident

The tears were streaming as members of the Fluvanna High School girls varsity soccer team emerged from a courthouse in downtown Charlottesville after their co-captain was convicted of biting a Western Albemarle High player– who used to be a Fluco teammate.

The judge convicted 18-year-old Katrina Ditta of misdemeanor assault and battery, and sentenced her to a 90-day suspended sentence.

Ditta, who dabbed her eyes with a tissue after Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Judge Rick Moore delivered his guilty verdict, had taken the stand to deny chomping down on the victim's arm. The courtroom was filled with her supporters and former teammates. Her grandmother abruptly left the room after the verdict.

There was already bad blood between the Flucos and Warriors, even before the fateful moment on that fateful day. It was May 23 at the Jefferson District semifinals in what would be Ditta's last high school game; and, according to one witness, the coaches didn't even shake hands. Other witnesses indicated that the two teams sat on opposite sides of the field– something very rare in soccer.

The contest had been rained out the previous day, and the grueling Wednesday game was tied 1-1. It went into two overtimes, two sudden deaths, and two penalty kicks before Western eked out a win.

Western student Christine Domecq, 17, testified that the incident happened in the first overtime on a corner kick. She said she knew Ditta because they'd both played on the Fluvanna team before Domecq transferred to Western Albemarle, where her father is an assistant principal.

"I was trying to make a run," said Domecq. "She grabbed me and bit me." Within minutes, she added, she saw teeth marks and red swelling.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jon Zug whipped out four photos of the allegedly bitten arm. The photos had been taken by Domecq's father two days later.

Domecq didn't report the alleged bite until after the game and testified that she waited over fears that it would be seen as retaliation that might somehow disqualify her for the following day's championship game.

"You didn't want to report a flagrant foul because it would be retaliation?" asked an incredulous-toned defense attorney Bonnie Lepold.

"I told Christine she needs to be a mature person if there was name calling or physical incidents," testified Western coach Jacob Desch. "I told her to walk away."

After the game, Dolmecq approached him and the assistant coach.

"There was a red mark there," said Desch, who noted that biting in soccer is rare. "She said it was a bite. Whether it's true or not, we went straight to the administrator."

"I could see clearly what seemed to be indentations on her arm," said assistant soccer coach Robert Crickenberger.

The defense brought in 10 witnesses, including the referees and other people at the game, each of whom testified that they did not see Domecq get bitten, nor did they hear any scream during the alleged assault.

Ditta took the stand and flatly denied biting Domecq– and any ill will toward the former teammate who transferred to Western.

Judge Rick Moore, a former Orange and Albemarle prosecutor who was elected to the bench in May, said the fact that others didn't see the biting was not significant.

"There are a lot of things you don't see with 22 people running around," said the judge, who noted that he found the victim believable, as well as the testimony of two people who said the red mark looked like a bite.

"I believe she was bitten," said Moore. "It could have been unintentional." He adds, "I don't find any reason to reject the victim's testimony."

Virginia, however, seems to require intent to sustain an assault and battery conviction.

"To say it might have been an accident is inconsistent with the ruling," explains Hook legal expert David Heiberg, because that would raise reasonable doubt. Noting that many judges don't offer reasons for their verdicts, Heilberg wonders whether Moore's newness on the bench contributed to an explanation that seems at odds with the verdict.

Ditta's attorney indicated that she would be appealing. Prosecutor Zug declined to comment on the case pending such appeal.

After the trial, Zug expressed surprise to find so much media interest. However, he did mention the Canadian hockey coach who recently tripped a 13-year-old player during post-game handshakes, an action that over two million have watched on YouTube.

"That is assault," said Zug. "We're seeing sports crimes."

Updated around 3:30pm July 17 with David Heilberg comments.


Sometimes, with a "win at all costs" attitude, players aren't taught how to process results if they don't win, if they feel that there is only one acceptable result of a contest.

The judge said it could have been unintentional, so why find her guilty?
This case is another one that should never have gotten unto the legal system. Whats next, a basketball player bringing assault charges against an opponent who fouled him or her?

And Jon Zug knows assault when he sees marks on an arm.
Shoot, I wouldn't put it past him to have coached the Domecq's to bite it themselves.

Doesn't take much of a bite to leave red marks or bruises on a young girl's arm. In other words, it doesn't take much to create evidence in a case like this. Jon Zug and Rick Moore should know this. I think the case will be cleaned up a bit on appeal.

Appeal. Right.
If Zug allows it.

Wow. That last paragraph reeks of circumstantial evidence, hearsay, and reasonable doubt. Judge Moore should be admonished for bringing down a guilty verdict on this.

Whoa, sports around here have become increasingly violent and NOT sportsmen like over the years. I so recall similar behaviors within the YMCA Basketball Program, High School Sports, Lacrosse Leagues about 15 years ago. Most of them within the female athlete programs. The parents are the worst of it all!

Young girls are the worst too. Our society has created these monsters of today. They bully in such a way to cause permanent emotional scaring (which they probably learn from their "high society" or "high society want to be" mothers.)

90 days suspended is fair for this case. Appeal? For those who are bashing Zug, he has been in his line of work for years and is a good attorney who seeks the truth. He doesn't coach witnesses, nor would he manufacture evidence as indicated by the comments here. He is serving our County, when he could go into private practice and earn far more.

the two schools athletics directors and coaches should be held accountable. the coaches didn't even shake hands before the game? what are they teaching, exactly? people need to realize that sports may be fun, but definitely not worth all the drama. very, very few kids go on to be pro athletes. parents and adults need to teach that sports are not that important.

Rob: sounds like you have a story to tell.

In a she said-she said case it is very difficult to prove something happened beyond a reasonable doubt.
In a she said-she said PLUS 10 other folks also said PLUS a videotape also said, it is inconceivable that this case involved proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
It is not sufficient that a bite occurred. I could bite my arm right now and prove that a bite occurred. Alone that doesn't mean a thing. The prosecution didn't have to prove JUST that a bite occured, but that beyond a reasonable doubt it was the defendant who did the biting.
Although I am confident this will be fixed on appeal, an appeal will cost the defendant thousands of dollars and a great deal of stress and anxiety.

this is total BS, jut like Legal says, "it's a he said, she said case". According to NBC 29, no one at the game saw anything unusual & this judge is going to find this recent HS graduate guilty of misdemeanor assault witha 90 day suspended sentence... what crap & how much with this cost the family? The judge should be ashamed. I hope the appeal goes in favor of Ditta.

90 days? It is not like she waited for her in the parking lot and jumped her. If a kid gets beat up downtown, the police won't even investigate it.

Hmmm. Hopefully the grown up judges will get this case after this novice wacko seems to have botched it. The sides should have been much more mature about this--but there is way too much doubt in this case--dozens of kids, lots of fans and nobody sees anything? I would like to have seen one person corroborate this in some way before giving a 90 day sentence out(suspended or not)

We recently updated the story to take additional note of the controversial aspect of the judge's decision.--hawes

WHAT a waste of time and money - from what I understand the Commonwealth Attorney refused to file charges and so Domecq went in front of the Magistrate to pursue the charges. Of course Zug at that point had no other choice but to prosecute and so I bet he was surprised by the ruling......

Oh by the way, here are the requirements to become a Magistrate in the State of Va:

1. Prepare your proof of citizenship and residency. You must be a citizen of the United States and resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Documents like a birth certificate, naturalization card or social security card can provide citizenship information, while a driver's license or current utility bill can provide residency information.

2. Obtain a bachelor's degree from an accredited higher education facility. Most colleges and universities in the United States have proper accreditation. Virginia does not require a particular field of study to become a magistrate.

3. Submit your fingerprints to the state, and run full national and state background checks on yourself. Most local police offices will take fingerprints and handle background checks. While a misdemeanor will not prevent you from becoming a magistrate, a felony conviction will.

WHAT a joke - this should have NEVER gotten past the Magistrate!!!!!!!

Wonder if this story gets picked up Nationally

Domecq is a principal at western? With arrests from undercover stings? And now he is willing to toast a young person life for years over this? This conviction can stop her college aid (FAFSA) process.

Western Albemarle is willing to let this Domecq possibly stop a youths education over this? I suspect Ditta has learned any lessons that are out there, and now is just having her life hurt.

Glad I dont have kids at Western being lead by that guy.

Old guy trying to live their life through their kids via soccer. Sad and pathetic.

Looks like a judicial review is needed in this case. The judge cannot even make an appropiate decision contradicitng his own decision with his statement. Maybe he did this so it would be appealed in order to save face with his peers locally but would be overturned in appeal.
Zug should be disbarred for his apparent lack of court behavior.
Oh yes to the comment above about the judge doing community service, see what you think of him when it is your child being railroaded.

Based on the reports in the press, some might guess that the question asked in this case was "is there any theoretical way that the defendant could have bitten the accuser?" If that is the standard used, then no defendant has a chance. With this standard it doesn't matter that 10 witnesses said it didn't happen, or that a video shows nothing happen, or that the defendant denied that anything happened, or that the accuser didn't have a single witness to corroborate her story. Under the "is there any conceivable way this could have happened" test, the defendant loses. After all, just about every crackpot theory is theoretically possible. A 1 in 1,000,0000 chance is unlikely but "possible". Is it theoretically possible that 10 witnesses missed the bite, and the video just happened to miss the bite, and that no one spoke up to confirm the bite, and that the defendant had super human skills that allowed her to be super quick and super stealthy and somehow manage to bite someone in the middle of a soccer field without a single person noticing? Sure, that is ridiculously improbably, but theoretically possible. If that were the standard, then every accusation would result in a guilty verdict. But that is not the standard. Our system actually makes it hard to convict. We consider putting someone in jail a pretty big deal. We put the burden on the prosecution to prove that the defendant is guility, and we do not put burden on the defendant to prove they are innocent. We presume the defendant is innocent until the prosecution proves otherwise beyond a reasonable doubt - the highest standard in the law.

Heilberg is once again correct. And while he did not come right out and say it, this case will not stand on appeal.

Gasbag, You are, once again, sure of your prediction. I'm jealous of that,
but in my two cases of mischievous prosecution during the divorce suit I had going, I can say definitively that some of the individuals in this case, along with a newbie attorney and a public defender, will conspire with judges and court scheduling to continue their bullying. Ditta's appeal is in the public eye, so you're probably right.

This will be an appeal from the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court to the Circuit Court. There are special rules governing this type of appeal. Specifically, the Circuit Court does not review the lower court's ruling and determine whether the lower court was right or wrong. Rather, the lower court's ruling is disregarded, and both sides start with a clean slate. The appeal is in fact a brand new trial from scratch. In addition, unlike in the lower court where no jury is available, in the Circuit Court, the defendant can ask for a jury.

7 angry people

There has been bad blood between these 2 school's teams for years. There were incidents of bus shaking at a girls volleyball game. There have been fights in the stands, and swearing. And, no it's not the children doing this. It's the Parents! The Fluvanna & WAHS contingent got so nasty during the Topix discussion that NBC had to take down the thread. I respect that Dr. Domecq finally said, Enough! and took it to court. It was a fair verdict, and the Defendant is lucky that she didn't have to serve the time.

Yeah, but did Domecy say "enough" regarding the game or the egging and TPing that he received in the next two weeks...when he finally forced the issue...

CNN exclusive: Congressional insider trading ban might not apply to families...problem.

"Since new information has been brought to our attention with respect to this discrepancy, we are reviewing our options regarding transaction reports in the House of Representatives."

Still, another question is why the House changed the legislation in the first place. A GOP leadership source insists there were no sinister motives, that CANTOR and the broader GOP leadership made changes AFTER consulting with Ethics Committee lawyers.


"..spouses and children of House members and their top aides (MAY BE EXEMPT), as well as the executive branch all carry out the law the way Senate sponsors intended."

****Sure, once you have been busted Cantor, right! that's politics in the United States of America (and, unless it interferes with your life)...Cantor, remember his wife, on the board of a major Virginia News Media...remember the Cantor's are always on the up & up...transparent if you want stirred mud in the water! IMO

Isn't it really a bit more likely that the "bitten girl" hit the "biter" in the mouth with her arm ... ? I mean, IF those are tooth marks. Isn't it also possible that -- since the marks didn't appear right away or weren't noticed by others right away -- that someone other than the "biter" did the "biting" -- if it actually happened at all?

Just curious -- do the official rules of Soccer actually and specifically prohibit "biting" ??

Soccer rules specifically states that biting is a red card offense and the player is sent off for the rest of the game and the team plays a player down. Also if the so called bitten player did strike the accused with her arm that would be an offense by the accusser and may also be a red card offense.

But the judge in his infinite wisdom refused all possibilities except that the minor teenage girl accusing her had no reason to lie. All the referrees and other witnesses couldn't prove without a shadow of a doubt she didn't, oh wait isn't that suppose to be the other way around.
Wake up people let your legislators know about this gross miscarriage of justice. This judge was appointed by the legislators and is an embarassment to the judicial system with this decision. Thankfully this has been appealed and should be corrected, but this girl still has to put her life on hold, suffer financial burden of defending herself . Not to mention the cost to the tax payer for this case being heard , when it should have never seen a courtroom more less a decision like this.
Wake up albermarle next year this could be someone from Monticello, Albermale or hartesville High Schools. This dad has already violated the rights of students at his own high school, who knows what child will be next for his abuse.

THIS IS TOTAL BULL****!!!!! Both Mr. Domecq and Christine's reputation have been irreparably tarnished in this incident. Are you kidding? Did she even break the skin?! 90 DAY SUSPENDED SENTENCE?! WTF?!?! Even if she did bite Christine, what the hell ever happened to community service? Clearly, the Domecq's didn't fully process the consequences that taking action like this will surely merit. Christine will be a target. I would suggest she transfer schools and go to a place where no one knows who she is. She should be ashamed of herself---using the legal system as a stage for her little petty snit fit. HOW OLD IS SHE--5?! I saw a girl trip another girl in a game and SHE BROKE HER ANKLE!!!!!!! Did those parents press charges? NOOOOO. S*** happens when you play soccer. Nevermind the fact that this whole biting thing probably didn't happen. It seems as though no one can prove it. I bet Christine bit herself on the arm. Futhermore, how can anyone in that family be taken seriously after this? I would feel sorry for them, but that would be a WASTE OF TIME.