Game over: Charge in soccer biting case dropped
Former Fluco Katrina Ditta was supposed to be in Albemarle Circuit Court January 9 to appeal her conviction for allegedly biting a Western Albemarle soccer player during a game last spring. Instead, the prosecution requested the misdemeanor assault charge be dropped.
"The victim's father contacted us before Christmas," says Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jon Zug. "They asked that it be nolle prossed.
"It's unusual," says Zug of the decision not to prosecute. "We went ahead and adhered to the victim's wishes."
The July 16 trial in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court highlighted the bad blood between the Flucos and the Western Albemarle Warriors– even before the May 23 semifinal game that would be Fluvanna co-captain Ditta's last high school game.
Further exacerbating the situation, the victim, Christine Domecq, used to play on the Fluvanna High team before transferring to Western, where her father is an assistant principal.
On the evening of Ditta's conviction, bottle bombs were thrown onto the Domecq property at Lake Monticello.
Since then, her father, Greg Domecq, notes improved behavior between the rival teams in his email to the prosecutor, and no further reports of inappropriate text messages or Facebook posts directed at Christine.
"The first step in the healing process is forgiveness," he writes. "What more can be gained?... "
A statement from Ditta's attorney, Bonnie Lepold, is not quite so conciliatory. "Katrina Ditta's good name was besmirched by a charge made against her seven months ago. Since then she has worked to regain her good name."
Lepold points out that one of the reasons the prosecution moved to have the charge nolle prossed was "to avoid wasting valuable judicial resources on trying this case again because, if it had been tried, a jury could have easily found reasonable doubt."
"A jury could have had a different result," concurs Hook legal analyst David Heilberg. "Maybe it wasn't worth it to spend taxpayers' money."
The commonwealth doesn't always defer to victims' wishes to not prosecute, particularly in relationship- or domestic-violence cases, says Heilberg. The assault charge stemming from a soccer game, however, was "unique," he says.
"Given all the factors in a hotly contested case, it's not a surprise," says Heilberg. "These folks will probably never have contact again."
During the daylong trial in July, Ditta flatly denied biting Domecq and had 10 witnesses, including referees, who testified they saw no biting.
The prosecution had photos of bite marks on Domecq's arm taken two days after the game by her father, and two of her coaches testified they saw red marks on her arm when she reported the incident to them after the game.
In her attorney's statement, Ditta thanks not only her family, friends, and fellow Flucos, but also "those individuals from the Western Albemarle organization who voluntarily came forward of their own accord expressing their support and willingness to testify on her behalf."
Lepold has filed a petition to expunge the misdemeanor assault charge, for which Ditta received a 90-day suspended sentence, and it will be finalized in a few weeks, she says.
Ditta, 18, is now a first-year at Virginia Wesleyan, says her attorney, where she plays on the varsity women's soccer team.