COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Assaulting an Ohio referee would become a crime punishable by a fine and community service hours, under pending legislation in the General Assembly.
The bill would make an assault on referees before, during or after a sporting event, or in retaliation for their decisions, a first-degree misdemeanor with an automatic fine of $1,500 and 40 hours of community service.
A second conviction could lead to a felony charge that could include prison time if the assault was committed with a weapon or caused serious harm.
More than two of every three sports officials quit during their first three years because of spectator abuse, said Rep. Bill Roemer, a Republican from Richfield in northeastern Ohio and a longtime youth baseball coach.
“Sports officials deserve to be safe from undue harm on the job, not just for their safety, but for the integrity of sports at large,” Roemer told the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday.
The House passed the legislation in June by a wide margin. Lawmakers considered but failed to pass a similar bill in the last General Assembly.