Man accused of knocking boy down at football practice

Thursday, September 28th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

COPPELL – The father of a youth football player was arrested Tuesday for allegedly knocking his son's teammate to the ground after becoming upset during practice, police said.

Robert S. Pestinger, 56, was charged with felony injury to a child five days after using a football block on the child, who suffered minor bumps and bruises, said Coppell police Capt. Gary Nix. Mr. Pestinger was released on a $2,500 bond from the Coppell jail Tuesday.

"This little boy is close to being autistic, and he can't be on the football field without me," Mr. Pestinger said Wednesday about his son. "When this is all over, I'll talk. But I need to get things settled first."

He declined to comment further.

At practice last week at Andy Brown Community Park, police say, Mr. Pestinger, who is 6 feet 2 and weighs 190 pounds, used a football block on the 10-year-old, knocking him to the ground. The boy was wearing full football gear, including pads and a helmet. Police did not identify the boy or his parents, who called police about the incident.

"Basically, the kids were practicing football, and this guy was watching his kid. He became upset with something and used a football block like this," Capt. Nix said, folding his arms across his chest and jerking his arms upward.

"Parents have to be careful being involved in their child's sports and observing them. Parents are going to have to accept responsibility for their actions."

The 10-year-old boy was not treated at the park by paramedics, Capt. Nix said. His parents took him to their private doctor, he said.

Mr. Pestinger, who is an lawyer, has no other criminal record in Dallas County, records show.

Injury to a child, a third-degree felony, is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

At league football practice Wednesday evening, parents and their children said they were shocked at the allegation.

"I could see if it was a coach working with a kid, but I'd be really surprised at a dad on the sidelines coming out," said Richard Fennema, whose son, 8-year-old Nicholas, plays for the Colts in the Coppell Youth Football Association. "Obviously that's uncalled for. The parents need to let the coaches handle it."

Mr. Fennema said that in the four years Nicholas has played in the league he has heard of no other incidents.

Mark Young, president of the league, said Mr. Pestinger has been suspended from all league activities, including attending practices. Mr. Pestinger removed his son from the team after the incident.

Mr. Young declined to comment about what role parents should play, but said, "They should follow the law."

Mr. Young spoke with the parents of the injured child and said they declined to comment.

Coppell police reported the incident to Child Protective Services, but the agency will not investigate the incident because it did not involve allegations of a caregiver harming a child. Had Mr. Pestinger been a coach, CPS would investigate, Capt. Nix said.