A former assistant football coach at Kamehameha Schools-Hawaii was sentenced Wednesday for an assault on a varsity football player during a Sept. 3 practice at the school.
William Daniel “Danny” Pacheco of Keaau pleaded no contest to third-degree assault, a misdemeanor. Under terms of a plea deal, he was sentenced by Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara to one year probation and 30 days in jail. The jail time was taken under advisement — if Pacheco complies with the terms of his probation, he won’t have to serve any time behind bars. He also ordered Pacheco to serve 40 hours of community service and to seek anger management counseling.
Francis Alcain, Pacheco’s attorney, said the reason for the no contest plea is “civil liability” because of injuries to the player, a minor whom Stephens Media Hawaii is not identifying.
Hara also granted Pacheco, who has no prior criminal record, a deferral of his plea, which means the conviction will be erased if Pacheco satisfactorily completes probation.
Deputy Prosecutor Joseph Lee said that if the case went to trial the evidence would show that Pacheco “grabbed and/or slammed” the player, “causing him to suffer pain from hitting the ground.”
Alcain said the prosecution and the defense have “a very different version of events.” He added that Pacheco was in charge of the Warriors’ scout team “where he was basically charged with performing the duties of an opposing team, opposing defense.” He said Pacheco made a “late hit” on the victim and did not pick up or slam the player.
“Really it’s an unfortunate incident, that’s here before the courts. It’s one that, I think, can be expected if you place a individual on the scout team who’s an adult,” he said.
Alcain added that Pacheco, who has two master’s degrees, “has dedicated his life to bettering the youth of Hawaii” as an educator and coach.
“I believe this should have stayed in house, but here we are,” he said.
Lee noted the size disparity between the 6-foot-3, 300-plus pound Pacheco and the player, and said it’s fortunate the youngster was not seriously injured.
“Look at the physical difference alone, and that tells you that nobody is going to voluntarily consent to this kind of conduct,” he said. “Mr. Pacheco has a master’s degree in education and … has been coaching for a long time, which makes this conduct even more senseless.”
The player told the court that athletes put their trust in coaches, whose “correction and motivation should never be harmful to a student-athlete, neither mentally or physically.”
“It became obvious, immediately following the play, that Coach Danny was not going to check on me or apologize. In all honesty, if he did, he most likely would not have been here today,” the young man said.
He called the incident “a minor setback” in trust but added that “everything must be forgiven for us to move on.”
Pacheco also briefly addressed the court.
“I just want to say that I’m sorry for the situation and my actions which caused (the player) to get injured on that day, but I’m also sorry the situation escalated to the point of court intervention,” he said.
The judge told Pacheco that the level of contact in football “might be felony assault” if it occurred elsewhere.
“I’m not going to lecture you, personally,” he said. “Looking at your demeanor and your apology, I think you’ve thought about this long and hard, and I think maybe this will not happen again.”
The boy’s father said he was satisfied by the verdict, and that it gives his family some closure.
“You never expect your kid to get into something like this, but he respected the coach, and he knew that, in some ways, it’s part of the sport,” he said. “But in the manner in which it was done, it wasn’t. … There’s a fine line, and if you cross that fine line, you’re going to be held accountable for it.”
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.