Road rage? Law student to spend Christmas Eve in jail
It hasn't been a good year for students at the UVA Law School, at least for the four budding barristers learning the law via outside-the-classroom incidents.
The latest is Schuyler-raised London Crounse, 24, who is supposed to enter the legal profession in 2013 and who graduated with honors from Virginia Military Institute, but who allegedly so traumatized a bike-riding UVA professor that the professor filed assault charges.
According to the criminal complaint filed by Kirt von Daacke, an associate professor and assistant dean in the history department, he was riding his bike along McCormick Road September 1 and preparing to turn left onto Alderman Road when a black sedan suddenly appeared. The complaint asserts that the sedan pulled up close, swerved, then raced around him on the right. At another traffic light, von Daacke writes, the driver of the car began screaming obscenities at him and when von Daacke started to turn left, the car "cut around me on the left at high speed, [the driver] still shouting at me."
In the complaint, von Daacke says Crounse continued to pursue him, "screaming that he was going to kill me, driving continuously within a foot of me and swerving at me several times."
Von Daacke declined to elaborate for a reporter, but his attorney, Andrew Sneathern, says his client was "truly frightened."
In Albemarle General District Court December 13, Crounse pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, and was sentenced to 30 days, 24 of them suspended. He'll serve his sentence in jail over the Christmas holidays.
Asked for comment after the hearing, Crounse initially threatened to sue a reporter but then apologized and said the bicyclist– von Daacke– passed him on a double yellow line.
"He leaned in my window and called me an a**hole," says Crounse.
"Absolutely not," says attorney Sneathern. "Mr. von Daacke never called Mr. Crounse an a**hole."
"I was trying to get him to slow down and talk about it," says Crounse. "It was a verbal argument down the street, and he almost caused an accident."
Sneathern, however, points to Crounse as the aggressor and says that two people who saw the alleged road rage incident sought out von Daacke, and one was called as a witness. "[Von Daacke] certainly feared he would and could be harmed," says Sneathern.
Crounse was arrested September 2, and he says he wrote an apology to von Daacke.
"I should have rolled my window up and kept going," Crounse acknowledges. "I do regret the situation."
Crounse also stresses that he never touched von Daacke, and that the assault charge was based on "apprehension" and not on actual physical harm.
The law student tells the Hook he went to VMI on an academic scholarship and that he's the first in his family to go to college. Now, he says he's worried that the charge– and a newspaper's account of it– will affect his job prospects. He says he entered law school to get a good job to care for his family.
Crounse is far from alone in real world legal experiences at UVA Law.
Earlier this month, Joshua Peter Gomes was arrested in the early morning outside Carruthers Hall and charged with two felony counts of breaking and entering, and one count of possession of burglary tools. According to a search warrant affidavit, Gomes was captured on a camera that had been disguised as a coat hook and which police believe he had secretly installed inside the registrar's office. Gomes has been banned from UVA Grounds.
In the spring, right before graduation, Johnathan Perkins published an account of a supposed racial profiling incident and police harassment, which he later admitted he'd concocted. And his friend Daniel Watkins was arrested for stalking and assault in May, but the charges against Watkins were thrown out in August. Perkins was never charged with anything.