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    Mother accused of hitting coach

    The coach and the mother of the 17-year-old cheerleading captain had been involved in an ongoing dispute.

    By LEANORA MINAI

    © St. Petersburg Times, published February 17, 2001


    ST. PETERSBURG -- The mother of Lakewood High School's cheerleading captain slugged the squad's coach during a recent basketball game, police said Friday.

    Sabrina Patrick, 40, was arrested on a warrant Thursday and charged with battery on a School Board employee, a third-degree felony. The charge came two weeks after the fight in the gym bleachers at 1400 54th Ave. S.

    "She's upset. She goes to the game, punches out the cheerleading coach," said Rick Stelljes, a St. Petersburg police spokesman.

    The mother and the girl's varsity coach, Melanie Netschi, had been in an ongoing dispute over the 17-year-old cheerleading captain. In fact, police said, the mother had been told by school officials to stop calling and leaving threatening messages for Netschi, 24.

    In another twist, the father of the captain -- a Pinellas County Sheriff's Office deputy -- is accused of flashing his badge and claiming there was an emergency to gain special access to the coach.

    The 14-year deputy, John Patrick, is under investigation by the sheriff's internal affairs unit. He was not charged in the incident.

    The root of the disagreement is unknown, police said.

    "She was upset because the victim was harassing her daughter," said Stelljes, the police spokesman.

    On Jan. 31, according to police and court records, Patrick and her husband obtained access to the gym at 8 p.m. through the back. The deputy showed his badge, claiming there was an emergency.

    Once inside, the couple walked directly to Netschi. Police said the mother shouted, cursed and poked the coach in the chest and stomach.

    With a closed fist, she punched the coach on the right side of the face and bent the coach's finger back, police said. A woman stepped between them, breaking up the fight.

    Police later snapped a Polaroid of the coach's puffy eye and noted that the mother was "extremely hostile" toward the coach. Officers also listened to "several harassing, angry and threatening" messages left by Patrick, records said.

    On Friday, Pinellas schools spokesman Ron Stone and high school principal Walter Hall did not return telephone messages seeking comment. The coach also did not return a telephone call left at the school Friday.

    Sabrina Patrick was released from the Pinellas County Jail on her own recognizance. She refused to talk about the incident and referred calls to her attorney, Jorge Chalela, who was unavailable for comment.

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