Longtime city employee Robert Gordon was found guilty Friday of assaulting an 11-year-old boy during a pickup basketball game at the Charles Barrett Recreation Center in April.
You let a very small child get the best of you, Judge Constance Frogale told Gordon before sentencing him to 12 months of jail with all but 10 days suspended and an anger management program.
Though witnesses offered differing versions of the assault, Gordan, the recreation center director, was shooting hoops with five children in the centers gymnasium when he and the victim got into an argument on April 13. After insulting Gordon and Gordons deceased father, the child fled to a nearby multipurpose room filled with other children and at least one staff member, according to courtroom testimony.
Though he pled not guilty, Gordon admitted following the child, grabbing and lifting him off of the ground before taking the boy to his office. The 11-year-old later called his family and they, in turn, contacted authorities, according to testimony.
Testifying in Alexandria Juvenile and Domestic Court, the child also accused Gordon of insulting, punching and choking him before his parents arrived at the recreation center. Officer James Young, who arrested Gordon, told the court he saw signs the child had been assaulted when the two spoke later in the day.
I did see some scratches on his neck, he said. It appeared as though hed been choked.
The boys mother, Symill Willis, said an apologetic Gordon admitted hurting the child when the two met on the day of the incident. He had flipped, Willis recalled. Meanwhile, her sons neck was swollen and bruised, she said.
He just kept apologizing, [saying] that he didnt think before he reacted, Willis said. He admitted to me that he put his hands on my son.
Gordon, who took the witness stand as well, accused the boy of lying and tried to cast doubt on the familys testimony. Gordon also accused the boys stepfather, who arrived at the recreation center before Willis, of putting his hands around the childs neck. He never strangled the boy, Gordon told the court.
Even after Frogale found him guilty, Gordon maintained there were discrepancies in the prosecutions case.
Some of [the childs] testimony is wrong, Gordon told Frogale. A lot of their story was inconsistent.
But Gordons admission of laying hands on the boy, to police, in a written report given to his supervisor and during his testimony was enough to convict him. Gordon, in his own words, was provoked and then assaulted the boy, said prosecutor Cathryn Evans during closing arguments.
The defendant laid his hands on the child in anger, she said. Words alone are never an excuse for battery.
Gordon, a 24-year city employee, has been on paid administrative leave since his arrest. A decision about his future as a city employee will come from the human resources department within the next seven to 10 days, said William Chesley of the department of recreation, parks and cultural activities.
He will begin serving his sentence on June 15.