Letters, Jan. 28-31: Wilcox should be thanked, not prosecuted
We are responding to the Dec. 19 guest editorial “Community must protect coaches and teachers.” It addressed the ongoing criminal case against Lani Wilcox, the Park City High School tennis coach. We attended the hearing on Jan. 3 and want to share our observations.
At the hearing conclusion, Judge Richard Mrazik made it clear the prosecution needed to prove the following: 1) That Wilcox actually put the student into a legal choke hold. 2) If yes to 1, could it likely cause injury or death. 3) Alternatively, prove Wilcox was not acting in self defense or defense of others.
The legal definition of choke hold is “direct pressure, prolonged, with the intention to produce loss of consciousness.” The evidence presented in court clearly shows Wilcox acted in defense of herself, her team, and that she did not put the student in a choke hold.
The security video shows the student striking Wilcox, as admitted to in court by the student and witnesses of the attack. After being struck by the student, Wilcox then restrains the student around the shoulders from behind. They then lose their balance, at which point Wilcox’s forearms may have inadvertently gone near the student’s neck for about two seconds as they fall to the ground. In falling to the ground Wilcox suffers a concussion. The video then shows the student immediately jumping up from the ground and attacking the assistant coach.
Wilcox’s contact with the student does not meet any of the criteria of a choke hold — it wasn’t direct pressure, it wasn’t prolonged, and none of her actions were intended to produce loss of consciousness. Further, the student’s ability to immediately jump up and kick the assistant coach clearly shows Wilcox did not cause the student any limitations or injury and that she was correct in attempting to restrain the student.
Wilcox is a beloved senior citizen and tennis coach who has taught youth for 37 years and coached high school teams for 23 years. There are decades of people who are grateful for the time she has given them on the tennis court. If this case is not dismissed, the witness stand will be filled with an entire girl’s high school tennis team who witnessed the student attacking Wilcox and expressing gratitude that Wilcox protected them.
Wilcox has a right to protect herself and she should be thanked, not prosecuted, for protecting her team.
Janet White, Bridget Llewellyn, Marti Skjervem and Kathleen Dicesaris
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