Sledge draws support from university leaders after sentencing
Following Tavares Sledge’s sentencing on Nov. 19 in Fairborn Municipal Court, community and campus leaders requested Judge Beth Root to reconsider her 19-day sentence of the Raiders men’s basketball forward.
Last week, Sledge’s attorney Michael Brush filed a motion to reduce Sledge’s sentence. Along with the motion, a number of community and campus leaders signed a letter asking Root to reconsider her sentence.
Wright State Director of Athletics Bob Grant, WSU President David Hopkins and his wife Angelia, VP of Student Affairs Dan Abrahamowicz and Oakwood Mayor William Duncan were among those who signed the letter.
“We believe a 19-day jail sentence will certainly do more harm than good to this young man,” the letter reads. “Tavares has come a long way in the last two years in this community, and any jail time will certainly jeopardize this progress.”
Root denied the request Tuesday afternoon.
The sentence surprised Brush and Grant.
“I am extremely angry,” Grant said at a public Athletics Council meeting. “It is not an appropriate punishment. I am extremely unhappy.”
“Were we surprised? Of course we were surprised,” Brush said.
Sledge was arrested on Sept. 28 and was originally charged with four misdemeanor counts including domestic violence and child endangering. On Nov. 19, Sledge entered into a plea agreement with the prosecutor on two counts of disorderly conduct eliminating the domestic violence and child endangering charges. Sledge also pled guilty to a charge of resisting arrest and obstructing official business.
Going into the court hearing, the assumption from Sledge, Grant and Brush was that Sledge would avoid jail time. Sledge began his jail term on Dec. 6. He will be released over the Christmas holiday.
“We had an agreement on the charges. Tavares received an offer that was a good deal,” Brush said. “We went in with that deal and the judge accepted the deal but as the judge can do, sentencing is in her discretion.”
Grant said that the team was ready to reinstate Sledge following his Nov. 19 court hearing. WSU head coach Billy Donlon suspended sledge following his Sept. 30 arraignment. He has remained suspended since then.
“We were going to let him play,” Grant said. “We cannot practice him in good conscious with a pending jail sentence.”
Brush, a former WSU athlete, began representing Sledge following his arraignment. Brush said he thought the sentence Sledge received was unusually large considering he is a first-time offender.
“I think jail time at all is unusual for this situation. Any jail time,” Brush said.
Brush believed that Sledge’s status as an athlete was a factor in the case.
“It was well known before I even got on the case that this young man was a Wright State basketball player,” Brush said.
According to a police report filed by WSU Officer Kevin Long, the victim, who the policed identified as Alaina McAuley, had blood on her shirt and had a small scratch on the left side of her eye following an altercation.
The police report also stated that Sledge had locked himself in the his car upon the arrival of law enforcement and that the police had to break the windows in order to get Sledge out of the vehicle. Once police entered the backseat of Sledge’s car, they found his infant son in the backseat with Sledge.
Despite this police report, it was the opinion of those who signed the letter to Root that Sledge is not a threat to the community.
“We do not condone or excuse Mr. Sledge’s actions in anyway, and realize he must be punished for his involvement in this case…Tavares is not a danger or threat to this community and has our complete support moving forward,” the letter reads. “We sincerely hope that you will reconsider your decision and give this young man an opportunity to continue moving forward with his positive growth.”
Donlon, who was not among the group who signed the letter to Root, said he hopes Sledge will use this incident as a learning experience.
“Certainly, I don’t want to see anybody go to jail. I wouldn’t care who it is. I don’t want to see anybody go to jail. Never mind someone I know and care about,” Donlon said.
“He’s worked, he is very remorseful, he’ll continue to be remorseful over the things he can control,” Donlon added. “One of the valuable teaching points is when you put yourself in a position and make poor choices, you take your ability to control your own destiny out of your hands. And that is an invaluable piece of learning.”
Brush agreed with Donlon’s sentiment on Sledge.
“Tavares is a good kid. The charges that he pled guilty to were a fair and accurate depiction of what happened on that day,” Brush said. “He has never denied making a few mistakes. He’s always been up front and remorseful for his actions and accepted responsibility for those mistakes he did in fact make.”