(UPDATE) Lakeville Prosecutor Undecided on Punishment for Eagan Father Accused of Punching Son

City Prosecutor Elliot Knetsch said he would not seek a harsher penalty for Steven Wilson simply to "send a message."

Update (Dec. 16, 2011) Lakeville prosecutor Elliot Knetsch told Patch on Thursday evening that he has "not decided what to ask for if (Steven) Wilson pleads guilty or is convicted" of punching his son at Lakeville High School last Saturday. 

Wilson was arrested on Dec. 10 and charged with fifth-degree domestic assault after allegedly holding his son's head with one arm while using the other arm to punch him after his 8th-grade team lost in a basketball tournament. 

"The case is still at a preliminary stage. Many factors go into a decision as to what sentence is appropriate, including input from the victim, if any," Knetsch said. 

According to sentencing guidelines in Minnesota, fifth-degree domestic assault usually carries with it a $3,000 fine and 90 days in jail.  

When asked if he would pursue a harsher punishment for Wilson in an effort to deter would-be abusers or other incidents, Knetsch disagreed with that strategy.

"I do not think punishing an individual to 'send a message' to a particular segment of the general public is effective or equitable," he said.

An offense such as this can also carry with it a no-contact order—effectively barring any contact between Wilson and his son—which could be a particuarly tricky matter in this case. 

Knetsch declined to comment on a no-contact order because the case is still being investigated.


Update (Dec. 14, 2011) The Eagan Athletic Association (EAA) is considering banning Steven Wilson, 52, from any future athletic events if allegations are true that he punched his eigth-grade son after losing a basketball game on Dec. 10, according to a story in the Star Tribune.

The story also said EAA president Ken LaChance is hoping "the courts" can help dole out punishment for what he considered unprecedented behavior by a parent toward a child. 

"I've never seen anything get to this level, and we're obviously very disturbed by it. We have banned folks in the past and obviously this will warrant some kind of reaction, maybe more than that," LaChance said. 

Misdemeanor domestic assault usually carries with it a no-contact order but none has been issued in this case, Lakeville City Attorney Elliott Knetsch has confirmed publicly. 

In an email to Patch on Dec. 13, Knetsch also confirmed that the case will not be handed over to the Dakota County District Attorney's office for consideration of more serious charges.

If convicted of the charges against him, Wilson could spend up to 90 days in jail and be forced to pay a $3,000 fine.


Original story (Dec. 13, 2011)  Chief Tom Vonhof called the alleged domestic assault of teenage boy by his father at a basketball game in Lakeville "particularly disturbing" in a release issued today.

"Parents attending youth sports events have a great opportunity to be a positive role model for kids and that is clearly not what happened here," Vonhof said.

Steven O. Wilson, 52, of Eagan, was arrested on Dec. 10 after Lakeville police repsonded to reports of a domestic assault between a parent and a juvenile family member in the hallway of Lakeville South High School. 

Wilson allegedly held his son's head with one arm and used the other arm to punch him after his 8th-grade team lost in a basketball tournament, according to a Fox 9 article. 

According to the press release from Vonhof, nearby parents had to physically intervene to stop the assault before police arrived.

Wilson was arrested on charges of fifth-degree domestic assault and, if convicted, could face up to 90 days in prison and a $3,000 fine.

The Dakota County Attorney's office said ther matter is being prosecuted by the Lakeville city attorney. Messages left with the, have not yet been returned.

After Wilson's arrest, he was brought to Dakota County Jail. He posted a $10,000 bond and was released.

MJ December 13, 2011 at 08:29 PM
when people act this way in public, how awful do they act in private? lock him up and throw away the key?
Barbara Gilbertson December 13, 2011 at 11:27 PM
Ninety days and $3,000? No, no, no. His son needs an order of protection (for what little that's worth), and this man needs to be put outside in early American stocks at Lakeville South High School for his full 90 day sentence. I only hope the different communities cited in the article mean this horrible bully does not live with his son. His son! An eighth grader! Zero tolerance.
ABSG December 14, 2011 at 01:34 PM
You are missing the point on the root cause of all of this. Sports have been an American OBSESSION for Parents and Coaches thinking their little Jonny or Susie are the next Albert Puljos of the World! These people spend more time at practices and games than on their child's Acedemics! Amazing what we would see if this was reversed! I know a woman that took out a loan so she could afford hockey equipment....come on'....you can't make this stuff up! If you can't afford it then your kid shouldn't be playing sports, plain and simple. Maybe this would have taught your child what's really important in this World! My elementary child plays sports (his choice) and he has practice twice a week for 45 minutes and a game on Saturday for an hour. Why can't all Sports be minimal time investment like this? Then maybe people wouldn't get so wrapped up in the competitiveness of it and go off on their child.
ABSG December 14, 2011 at 01:35 PM
My wife's child wrestled in a different school district and was belittled by the Coach because her son was to spend time with her and would miss a couple practices! The Caoch made him do extra work because of it. My confronted this coach thru email and told him that it's a sport - it's for fun, it's not my child's job and he if needs to miss a couple practices so-be-it! She wrote the school superintendent and they all stick up for one another it's pathetic! The wrestling coach wrote an apology letter, yet still inserted his obsessions - "the team is counting on him, he's part of a team, blah blah blah". He just didn't get it! So reading and hearing about this man punching his child and the dozens of other OBSESSED parents through the years does not surprise me one bit nor should it any of you!
Jason December 14, 2011 at 03:04 PM
I agree that far too often youth sports - from parents to coaches to administrators to the community - occupies far too much priority and attention vis a vis other aspects of life today. We all know of the families for whom sports (and ultimately, winning at those sports) becomes the family identity, occupies nearly all of the family's attention, and absorbs nearly all of the budget of time and money for all involved. That is a big problem once the child inevitably becomes one of the 99%+ for whom the future will be centered around something else than the sport(s) of choice. But this isn't about that. We know this because most every parent and supporter, regardless of obsession level, can easily refrain from physically abusing the child, the coach, the referees and the like. While there will always be isolated cases to the contrary, the "obsession" is far from the problem. The problem is the lack of self-control and underlying issues that cause an adult to lose all perspective and act irresponsibly or illegally. It doesn't matter how much pressure is being applied from the league, the school or what have you - rational adults can successfully manage the siutation and care for a child responsibly without this type of despicable behavior. Let's be clear - this person has significant problems, the least of which is the nature and pressures of the leagues. It is right to question our youth sports leagues and how they're conducted, but let's place blame where it belongs.
ABSG December 14, 2011 at 03:25 PM
I would agree with your comment Jason, well stated - I would just like to add that perhaps without the pressure, the competitive nature we have placed on sports or constant need to be #1 this incident may never of have happened! I think the obsession of sports brought out this frustration (abuse). I still say it goes hand in hand. I see it everyday...I just shake my head at the parents I talk to and the schedules they have their kids on with sports...it's unbelievable. You are right - maybe he has flown off the handle at other things at home etc....and this just added to it. But we have seen it before so we all know that the competitive nature have played a role in these incidents.
Barbara Gilbertson December 14, 2011 at 03:34 PM
I agree with most of these comments. But that is not the point here. The point is that this man, at this time, in this school, on that particular day assaulted his young son. Beat him. Whatever the root cause of this attack, it was in fact vicious assault with intent to harm. We cannot cut this man slack, suggesting that he is a victim of a toxic system. I would be very surprised if there is not a trail of abusive behavior attached to this perpetrator. First, foremost and above all, the safety of this child (and he is a child) is paramount. I believe his mother needs to press charges on his behalf. And if, as I suspect, there is a history of violence in this child's household(s), that is probably a scary proposition for her. As to the mushrooming toxicity among sports parents, that's a companion issue, of course. And again, zero tolerance is required. One question is how a volunteer rec league coaching staff and teen referees can be expected to enforce zero tolerance. As we've seen in situations in and beyond our south metro, they are potentially at risk when they do. How to tell the difference between a loud-mouthed parent and a Steven Wilson? These officials cannot be expected to practice psychology on the athletic field. The matter of Steven Wilson can be prosecuted (though to what end is debatable). But parental game behavior is a systemic problem. So now what?
ABSG December 14, 2011 at 03:41 PM
Yes, Barb - the main point of this is the abuse...which is horrific and certainly I was not hinting for any slack treatment. I was just pointing out what I believe is part of the underlying problem/cause - as to why this type of behavior keeps happening. Have a great day everyone!
MJ December 14, 2011 at 04:17 PM
This is NOT about sports and weather it 'drives' parents to this level! This is about Child Abuse plain and simple! People who abuse will find anything to get upset over when people dont do things 'their way' - sports, homework, and the list can go on and on. There is NEVER a reason thats acceptable for this kind of behavior. Parents get upset over their child's sports every day in America but to say this instance of abuse is a direct relation to kids in competitive sports is rediculous; like saying domestic abuse is related to how clean the wife keeps the house and Mr. Clean should be held responsible. This man abused his son, in public, and probably does much worse in private and it can't always be about sports. This poor boy has probably been abused for a long time and his father brazenly doled out the 'usual punishment', forgetting or not caring that he was in public.
Susan Giniger December 15, 2011 at 05:57 PM
Steven O. Wilson has just abdicated his right to be a father to his poor son. Wonder what he does to his wife? Wilson should be prosecuted for first-degree assault and jailed. No plea bargain!
Susan Estill December 16, 2011 at 07:58 PM
This is domestic abuse. It should not be tolerated by our society. Period. The CDC just relseased results of a study that shows domestic abuse is rampant in the USA. This incident was in PUBLIC. There are actually lots of witnesses who can testify so there can be a conviction!! We can DO something to stop at least one person. What is this prosecutor thinking?! Do your job, sir!! I hope that this boy has a guardian ad litem and that there is an order of protection issued keeping him away from his son!
ABSG December 16, 2011 at 08:40 PM
Wow - some of you people need to take a chill pill. All of you have jumped to conclusions and are ready to inject the needle into this guy. Yes, he will be dealt with according to the law, we can be assured of that and he does deserve it, believe me. However, you can't convict him before hearing the facts. This could have been the very first time he has ever laid a finger on anyone. Which doesn't make it any less worse, but you don't know! What is FACT however, is that Parent/Coach Anger and Violence in Youth Sports occurs "frequently" throughtout the USA. It's happened 100's of times. These are just a few examples on the issue.... 1) http://www.naso.org/sportsmanship/badsports.html 2) http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/29/sports/29iht-RAGE.html?pagewanted=all 3) http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=51670 4) http://jbmthinks.com/2011/05/angry-parents-sue-coaches-what-has-youth-sports-turned-into.html/ 5) http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/AmericanFamily/story?id=124886&page=1 So before you think this is ONLY about abuse, soley an anger issue and not related to Parents/Coaches obessed with Sports think again! I wouldn't be surprised if this is the first time he has hit someone or lost control.


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