Judge accepts plea agreement
By Alex Bridges
WOODSTOCK -- A former Shenandoah County teacher charged in a student-related hazing incident avoided trial Tuesday by striking a deal with prosecutors.
Nicholas R. Greco appeared in Shenandoah County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court and pleaded no contest to two counts of disorderly conduct. Greco stood charged with hazing, assault and battery by mob and seven counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor -- all misdemeanors.
Judge William H. Logan Jr. accepted the plea agreement reached between Greco's lawyers and the prosecutor. Greco also has agreed not to teach or coach for four years, his attorney Ian R.D. Williams said outside court.
The agreement reached between Greco's lawyers and Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Louis Campola called for two delinquency charges to be changed to disorderly conduct to which the defendant would plead no contest. The commonwealth's attorney agreed not to prosecute Greco on the remaining charges of hazing, assault and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Under the agreement, Greco will pay $500 of a $1,000 fine on one of his charges. The $1,000 fine on the second charge will be suspended. Greco will serve 24 months of unsupervised probation.
Greco resigned as a teacher at Peter Muehlenburg Middle School in January. He also coached the junior varsity football team at Central High School.
"Here's what I think [the agreement] did: It brought about a resolution of a situation that had been very traumatic for the school and the students and the community and for him," Williams said.
The defense attorney pointed out that parties have had to come to court on numerous occasions and three different judges have dealt with the case.
"It was disruptive to these students' lives and to Mr. Greco's life and to people that had to deal with it," Williams said. "I think it's a suitable arrangement that allows everybody to move forward."
Authorities accused Greco of inciting at least seven players on Oct 31 to haze a fellow student who had apparently fallen asleep in class. The 13-year-old boy suffered cuts and bruises from the incident, according to authorities. Court documents indicate a similar incident involving a different student athlete occurred about a month earlier.
At Greco's trial March 20, Campola asked retired Judge Marvin C. Hillsman Jr. to close the proceedings to the public and the media because juveniles were expected to testify. The defense attorneys argued that state law gives their client the right to an open trial. Hillsman denied Campola's request and the trial proceeded. The first of two teenaged boys identified as victims testified. A second boy was about to testify when Campola indicated his intention to appeal Hillsman's ruling on his motion. Hillsman stopped the trial to allow the prosecutor to pursue the appeal.
No appeal was filed. The case was continued until after school ended for the year.
"I think the pressure on witnesses was a factor for everybody," Williams said. "It was disconcerting to the families every time this thing was put off.
"Quite frankly, nobody's excited about having to come to court really, except lawyers," Williams added. "These are young people and they're all kind of friends and you put them in a situation where there's a lot of pressure and a lot of responsibility and I think it's a matter that cried out to be resolved and I think it resolved in an appropriate manner."
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org