Mother who encouraged daughter to punch basketball opponent is ordered to pay $9,000 and write apologies
A La Puente mother who encouraged her daughter to punch another player during a youth basketball game in Orange County has to pay $9,000 and write an apology to the teenage girl who was hit in the neck, a judge ordered Wednesday.
“You better hit her for that,” Latira Shonty Hunt could be heard telling her 14-year-old daughter during a game at the MAP Sports Facility in Garden Grove on Nov. 7.
Video shows Hunt’s daughter walking down the court after missing a shot. Immediately after Hunt’s comment, the teenager turns on her opponent and swings her arm, hitting her in the neck.
The victim’s mother, Alice Ham, posted the video on Instagram, and it has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times. Ham told The Times that the girl who punched her daughter and her mother had shown no remorse after the attack.
Hunt, 44, was charged with one misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and one misdemeanor count of battery.
On Wednesday, a judge granted Hunt misdemeanor diversion for the charges, meaning the case would not be prosecuted if the mother wrote apologies to the victim, her parents and both basketball teams.
Hunt is also required to pay more than $9,000 in restitution, stay away from the victim and attend anger management classes before she can attend basketball games. She would also remain under court oversight for two years.
The father of the girl who threw the punch, former Chicago Bulls player Corey Benjamin, issued an apology, saying he was shocked and disappointed at his daughter’s behavior.
In a statement, Hunt’s attorney called the decision a victory. He said Hunt and her daughter “took accountability for their actions and did everything in their power to rectify the situation.”
“This is the appropriate and just result,” attorney Brett A. Greenfield said.
Under state law, some misdemeanors are eligible for diversion programs. The charges could be dismissed if the judge’s order is completed.
Since the video surfaced, Greenfield said, Hunt and her daughter have been targeted with racist and bullying statements online.
“Ms. Hunt and her daughter can now begin to heal,” he said.
Ham’s attorney, Caroline R. Hahn, said her client and her daughter accepted the outcome of the case and were relieved that the process allowed them to address the judge and Hunt in court.
“The assault on her daughter and the subsequent court appearances have been a huge burden on Ms. Ham’s entire family,” Hahn said. “Ms. Ham hopes Ms. Hunt has learned from this ordeal and it results in change in her behavior going forward.”
The apology letter has not been received as of Thursday afternoon, Hahn said.
“Parents have a fundamental responsibility to raise our children to be good human beings who treat everyone with dignity and respect,” Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer said in a statement. “A grown adult directing a child to use violence against another child on the basketball court is reprehensible. By instructing her own daughter to engage in violence, she is not only responsible for injuring an innocent child as if she punched her with her own fist, but she transformed her own child into someone who is willing to hurt another child.”
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