Friday, April 27, 2001

No more loose lips on stunt, judge orders

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FORT MITCHELL — The media spotlight on the case of an Independence teen injured when he tried to jump over a moving car in a videotaped stunt is about to fade to black.

        Because of the intense local and national media coverage of the incident, Kenton County District Court Judge Martin Sheehan plans to place a gag order today on the attorneys, police officers, family members of the teens and anyone else involved with the case.

        The order will prevent them from talking to reporters, Judge Sheehan said Thursday.

Eric Deters holds a press conference outside his Fort Mitchell office Thursday.
        “This is a juvenile case. It's supposed to be confidential,” Judge Sheehan said. “But every time I look up, one of these guys is on national TV talking about it. These people are supposed to know better ... so I'm just going to shut everybody up,” the judge said.

        Judge Sheehan said he plans to impose the gag order during a hearing this morning in Kenton Juvenile Court.

        The injured teen, a 16-year-old student at Simon Kenton High School, suffered broken bones and other injuries Monday when he tried to leap over a moving car driven by one of his friends on an Independence street.

        The 17-year-old driver and a 16-year-old videotaping the incident have been charged with first-degree wanton endangerment, which is punishable by one to five years in prison.

        The injured teen may also be charged when Independence police are through investigating, said Kenton County Attorney Garry Edmondson, who is prosecuting the case.

        A fourth teen who was videotaping the stunt from the street has not been charged.

        But the videotapes, released Monday by police to reporters under the condition the teens' faces would not shown, have set off a nationwide media frenzy.

        The tapes, which graphically show the stunt, have been replayed on local and national television. Attorneys involved in the case have appeared on MSNBC, CNN and FOX and NBC. There is a theory that the teens were emulating a program on MTV called Jackass, where a host partakes in often dangerous and outrageous stunts.

        Though police found additional tapes some of the teens owned that included other stunts and were marked Jackass, the lawyer for the injured teen said his client was not trying to copy the show.

        “This has nothing to do with the MTV TV show called Jackass. Nothing,” said Independence lawyer Eric Deters, who is representing the injured teen.

        “Now if other people involved in this say that it is, then that contradicts what I'm being told” by my clients.

        Mr. Deters said his client has been involved in other stunts, including “riding a bike into a pond, skateboarding into a pond, jumping into a pond, riding a bike into a bush.”

        “They all said they were doing this for kicks and fun,” he said. “We all did stupid things.”

        He said the teens also were not copying a television commercial for Reebok shoes in which a man jumps over a moving car.

        “That's the first I've ever heard of that,” Mr. Deters said.

        “His parents are upset at him for attempting such a stunt, but like all of us who are parents, we love our children unconditionally,” Mr. Deters said.

        Mr. Deters said the teen suffered a broken leg, broken ankle and “many bruises and scrapes. He's lucky to be alive.”

        The teen, who is recovering at St. Elizabeth Medical Center South in Edgewood. has a brother in the Navy and plans to enlist after he graduates from high school. He gets good grades and does not have a criminal record, Mr. Deters said.

        “This is a good kid ... who made a mistake, and he shouldn't be charged with a crime,” Mr. Deters said.

        Mr. Deters said the injured teen “knows he did something foolish.”

        “He takes full responsibility for his own actions, and he regrets it ... and he knows it sure wasn't worth it,” he said.

        Mr. Deters said the boy's parents - his father is a graphic artist, his mother works at a factory in Walton — do not blame Jackass.

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