Greenest envy: STAB grads round up trouble

Even though no game was scheduled, the St. Anne's-Belfield football team was the victim of an illegal use of hands on its own gridiron.

The team arriving for a scrimmage on August 17 discovered a giant image of male reproductive organs burned into the grass with weed-killer. Sometime during the previous night, vandals using red and white paint had also sprayed an obscene message describing sexual contact between two students.

Three St. Anne's graduates in the class of 2002 have been charged with felony destruction of private property.

County spokesperson Lee Catlin characterized the graffiti as "derogatory phrases directed at personnel associated with the school." And the dead-grass image that allegedly measured 10 yards wide by 30 yards long?

"I don't want to say," responds Catlin, "but you could classify it as a lewd image." Albemarle County police officer William Underwood, who investigated the vandalism, reports the image was "a large design of a penis and testicles."

"This must be a slow news day," remarked St. Anne's headmaster George Conway when he was asked to comment. Conway says he didn't actually see the graffiti. "It was covered up very quickly with paint," says Conway. "That's our policy with all graffiti."

As for the image on the field, Conway says, "It wasn't easy to tell what it was." He adds, "If you go to a game, you can't tell there was any damage."

An eyewitness who was on the football field the morning it was discovered and spoke on the condition of anonymity says, "It's still there under a big 'S' in the middle of the field."

Catlin says the damage, estimated at $3,000, stretched from sideline to sideline at the 50-yard line, going to the 40-yard line on one side and the 30-yard line on the other.

Arrested on August 19 were Richard Brian Allis and Stuart Francis Honenberger, both 18, and a 17-year-old juvenile classmate. Allis and Honenberger are scheduled to appear in General District Court October 17. Felony destruction of private property carries a penalty of one to five years in prison, according to the commonwealth attorney's office.

So what led police to the three? Catlin says that upon discovery of the damage, Coach John Blake talked to the football team and said he wanted them to come forward and share information.

"There were several contacts over the weekend by player and nonplayer students," Catlin says. "Apparently there had been some discussion of this in advance at a party."

Officer Underwood says that in every instance, Blake was given the same three names. "Apparently they've been planning this since the end of the school year," he says. "They purchased two five-gallon containers of Round-Up that had been kept in the garage of one of the suspects all summer."

Any other evidence linking the three to the scene of the crime? "All the suspects came out and confessed when I told them the ramifications of a felony charge," says Underwood. "None had been in trouble before, and none had any concept of how serious a felony charge is."

Underwood believes that the felony charges ultimately will be reduced to misdemeanors.

None of the parents of the students involved would comment to The Hook on the prank gone awry, although one mother said, "Kids make mistakes. I don't think you need to report it in the paper."

The St. Anne's Three are all in college. Allis, an honor roll student at St. Anne's, is now at the University of Pennsylvania. Honenberger received an activities award at last year's graduation ceremony.

Headmaster Conway declines to comment on the alleged perps being St. Anne's grads, but did say, "We were very pleased with the county police, who did a full investigation. I called Chief [John] Miller to thank him."

There is one way STAB supporters can help the school's ravaged football field. A notice on the school's website calls for dads to come paint the field at 2pm Friday, October 4, a STAB tradition before home games.

Now, more than ever...

It's hard to tell what the heck is in the middle of the St. Anne's-Belfield football field.