A youth baseball coach from Long Island, NY was arrested at a game on Friday night after a disturbing event in which he allegedly stalked and threatened the family of a rival coach. The incident marks the latest and most terrifying case of a coach going far beyond any line of acceptability or legality in youth sports.
As first reported by Newsday and quickly followed upon by the Associated Press and a variety of other outlets, 45-year-old Robert Sanfilippo appeared in court on Saturday after being arrested on charges of stalking and aggrevated harassment. According to the victim of Sanfilippo's advances, the coach began harassing his opposite number much earlier, but was arrested during a game on Friday.
By that point, Sanfilippo had allegedly stalked the family outside their house, sending threatening text messages from an untraceable phone. Among the salvos the coach sent to John Reardon of Commack, N.Y. were blurry images apparently taken from a long-distance camera.
Sanfilippo allegedly threatened to harm Reardon and his family in his texts, and later sent photos depicting the coach walking with his son to the bus stop before school and Reardon's wife taking items out from the couple's car.
Most disturbingly, one of the anonymous texts threatened to "pick up [Reardon's] son from the bus stop."
"That's when it got scary and that's when I went to the police," Reardon told Newsday.
"I didn't know it was him at first. It was nerve-racking. I couldn't sleep. When he suddenly started mentioning my son by name, it just hit me that it was this guy."
That interaction came during a game played on Friday night, when the team coached by Reardon faced off against a group led by Sanfilippo at a Long Island facility named Baseball Heaven, in Yaphank. Both teams featured 10 and 11-year-old players.
There is no word yet about when Sanfilippo's case will go to trial, and it was not clear on Saturday whether or not he had a lawyer. Newsday reported that the coach faces an incredible 20 counts of aggravated harassment in addition to a lone charge of stalking. It was not clear which degree of harassment Sanfilippo was charged with, but his crimes fall most consistently within the guidelines for second degree aggravated harassment, a crime which could carry a charge of one-year's imprisonment for each charge against him.
That could land Sanfilippo in jail for more than 20 years if he is found guilty of all charges against him. Given how seriously sick the actions he allegedly carried out were, it would be hard to argue against such a sentence if the Long Island man is convicted.
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