A victim and the parents of both victims addressed the court at a baseball coach’s sentencing for sexual assault.
Louis Spadaccini walked in the courtroom with his hands cuffed in front of him and glanced toward his family before sitting in his seat at the defense table around 10:30 a.m. Monday.
The former baseball coach at Neumann-Goretti High School, 1736 S. 10th St., had pled guilty Sept. 26, 2012 to drugging and indecently assaulting a boy he had known for years, as well as drugging an incoming Saints’ freshman until his mother demanded his return home.
“Through her diligence and perseverance that night, [she] stopped this monster from continuing this life of disgusted shame,” the father of a victim, then 14, said of his wife.
Spadaccini’s family members and friends pleaded that Judge Ronald C. Nagle not send him too far away, so relatives, including his son, could visit, and Spadaccini’s lawyer, Tariq Karim El-Shabazz, noted his prior benefits to the community.
“If we want to be honest with ourselves, hundreds of young men came under the tutelage of Mr. Spadaccini with no allegations of any foul play, and now in fact, are successful not only in college, some are in the minor leagues,” he said referring to former Saints, such as Mark Donato, whom the Kansas City Royals drafted last year, and Mike Zolk, a University of North Carolina sophomore.
After a friend, whose husband met Spadaccini, 38, of the 2600 block of South Iseminger Street, in recovery, mentioned his struggles with drug and alcohol abuse, his attorney noted addiction alters one’s personality, resulting in abnormal actions.
“Drugs and alcohol don’t make you rape boys,” Assistant District Attorney Joseph McGlynn, who represented the victims, along with Assistant District Attorney Branwen McNabb, said, noting the pair were not the only ones Spadaccini abused.
Naming both boys, Spadaccini apologized and admitted his embarrassment.
“I just want to tell everyone in this room how truly sorry I am for my actions,” he said. “I tried my whole life to help people, and I honestly failed in a big way.”
Although Chester County’s Nagle, who presided over the case since Spadaccini had worked at the Criminal Justice Center as courtroom operations staffer, said it’s not possible to know what’s in a man’s heart, he didn’t buy the presented rationale.
“I must tell you, sir, it is an inadequate explanation from the court’s viewpoint, from this judge’s viewpoint,” he said. “What you did in these instances requires a certain degree of planning and conniving, and as one of the parents said, a nurturing of young boys to put yourself in a position of trust. … You have betrayed one of the most important trust that can be given to any human being in what you did.”
Nagle officially sentenced Spadaccini to the negotiated deal of 12 to 24 years in prison followed by five years of probation and a lifetime as a sex offender’s registrant for two counts of corruption of a minor, endangering the welfare of a child and furnishing liquor to a minor, as well as a count of involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, indecent assault and possession of narcotics. He will receive credit for the 16 months he already has served, and Nagle agreed to recommend him to Chester state prison where he can receive drug and alcohol treatment. He may not have unsupervised contact with children except for his son.
Spadaccini had picked up the 14-year-old boy from his home Sept. 18, ’11 and took him to the Holiday Inn, 900 Packer Ave., where he provided drinks, such as an orange soda, vodka and Xanax blend. His parents’ constant calling and texting resulted in Spadaccini’s returning the boy home about four hours later. The teen spent the next three days at the hospital where blood tests came back positive for benzodiazepines.
“I will never trust again – ever, ever,” the boy’s mother said. “It took a complete stranger to quickly discover and uncover Spadaccini as the real monster that he really is. I’m proud of myself for that and for [the other victim’s] mother, for our motherly intuition that kicked in and enabled us to put a stop to this — that’s been roaming around the ball fields, streets and parks of South Philly for way too long.”
Spadaccini’s reputation was what convinced the boy’s parents to enroll him at the school, as they had heard of his push for academics and compassion, but afterward they wanted him to go elsewhere. However, the boy’s teammates and their parents urged them to stay, which wasn’t easy.
“He’s the one being whispered about as he climbed the front steps at Neumann that first day,” his father said. “He’s the one who got Coach Lou fired.”
Spadaccini was arrested Sept. 19, posted bail and was released, but police rearrested him the next day after another boy came forward with more serious accusations.
“We learned that our son had been drugged, given significant amounts of alcohol and sexually molested on three different occasions — not by a stranger, but our friend and well-regarded baseball coach whose own son plays baseball with our youngest son,” the mother of the boy who was assaulted said.
His players idolized him, and their parents trusted him with their children. This morning, some of those parents used other words to describe Louis Spadaccini, who led the baseball team at Ss. John Neumann and Maria Goretti High School, 1736 S. 10th St., since 2008, such as “conniving child molester” and “pedophile.”
About three months after leading the baseball team at Neumann-Goretti High School, 1736 S. 10th St., to its second City and Catholic League titles under his tenure, Louis Spadaccini was arrested for drugging a boy and rearrested days later when another boy came forward with a similar story that also included accusations of sexual assault.
The head coach of the Ss. Neumann-Goretti baseball team was arrested for allegedly supplying a minor with alcohol Monday and put behind bars the following night for an allegation of sexual abuse.
The rotund rocker Meat Loaf declared “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” in 1977, long before the baseball players at Ss. Neumann-Goretti High School, 1736 S. 10th St., were born and only three years into coach Lou Spadaccini’s existence. If they were to meet the singer, they would surely balk at his reasoning.
Most coaches don't bask in the glory of their schemes, victories or titles. Neumann-Goretti's third year baseball coach is no different, but it takes guts to do what Lou Spadaccini has accomplished. At the end of an disappointing 2007 season in which the Saints finished 3-18, he told his team it would have a successful '08 season, which they did, ending a 11-year playoff drought.
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